Saturday, 31 October 2009

An Apology from the APO

From the Sydney Morning Herald :
A Transsexual has won a written apology from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the distress she experienced as a result of having to travel on a passport that identified her as a man.

Stefanie Imbruglia, 42 - a first cousin of the pop star Natalie Imbruglia - has also secured the department's agreement to other measures that amount to fairer treatment of transsexuals who apply for passports.

Ms Imbruglia had lived for two years as a woman before applying for a passport to travel to Thailand for sex realignment surgery in October 2007. She wanted her passport to identify her as a female. But the Howard government rescinded an established practice of issuing transsexuals who were to travel abroad for surgery a one-year limited passport in their nominated gender.

Forced to travel on a passport that identified her as a male, Ms Imbruglia said she was subjected to ridicule by an Australian passport officer who insisted on calling her ''sir'' even though she was wearing a skirt and jacket.

When she arrived at Bangkok airport, a passport control officer asked her to account for the discrepancy between her appearance and the gender on her passport.

''At the top of his voice in front of a hall full of people he looked at me and looked at my passport and said, 'Male or female?' Everyone turned around. It was scary.''

Ms Imbruglia said it was dangerous for transsexual women to have to travel abroad on male passports as they could be subjected to intimidation, violence, and arrest. The one-year passports were instituted, she said, after an Australian transsexual, forced to travel on a passport that identified her as male, was arrested in Singapore.

''My greatest fear was being detained in a male prison,'' she said. ''The danger the government put me in was huge.''
One correction: she's not a "Transsexual", she's a "woman". One with a transsexual past.

Because of the data sharing between immigration authorities worldwide - notably that between the UK and USA - I still face that danger because of the mismatch between my female UK and Australian passports and my male UK birth certificate.

However, I got my own written apology from the APO before Steph got hers. My issue was different, but the cause, rampant, bloody-minded and Kafkaesque transphobia at the highest level, was the same.

I've since had clear and convincing evidence that the APO is now one of the more trans-friendly government departments, reasonable and accommodating of both trans and intersexed people. Now. It took Steph's court case over another passport issue, and other women making themselves incredibly irritating to the APO in their persistence to cause this sea-change, but we did it.

Activist? Moi?

At My Apologetics, a comment to me:

I see that you have a whole bag full of quotes ready to cut and paste.

Let us save each other some time by you posting the web links only.
That way those who wish to read the campaign sheet can do so at their own leasure.

Your last statement filled with random thoughts special pleadings and non-sequiturs makes me wonder whether have a point at all. I now you have an agenda. But a clear and understandable point seems to be missing.
My Reply:
OK, some of the "campaign sheets" as you call them:

Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids by Berglund et al Cerebral Cortex 2008 18(8):1900-1908;

Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus.
Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041

Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation. Swaab Gynecol Endocrinol (2004) 19:301–312.

A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.

A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity by Garcia-Falgueras et al Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3132-46.

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

Association study of gender identity disorder and sex hormone-related genes by Ujike et al, Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Oct 1;33(7):1241-4.:

Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism by Hare at al in Biol.Psych. Vol65, Issue 1, Pp 93-96

Are You A Boy or A Girl? Contesting the Uncontested: Intersex and Genders a PhD thesis, Stephen Kerry held by the University of Newcastle, NSW.

Biased-Interaction Theory of Psychosexual Development: “How Does One Know if One is Male or Female?” M. Diamond Sex Roles (2006) 55:589–600

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

Neuroimaging Differences in Spatial Cognition between Men and Male-to-Female Transsexuals Before and During Hormone Therapy by Scoening et al J Sex Med. 2009 Sep 14.

Clinical implications of the organizational and activational effects of hormones. M.Diamond Horm Behav. 2009 May;55(5):621-32

Disorders of sex development expose transcriptional autonomy of genetic sex and androgen-programmed hormonal sex in human blood leukocytes : Holterhus et al, BMC Genomics 2009, 10:292

Autogynephilia in Women. Moser, C. Journal of Homosexuality (in press).

Psychiatric Misadventures P.R. McHugh The American Scholar (1992)

The atypical brain development of transsexuals Swaab, NBC Handelsblad (a non-academic summary)

Re Kevin – Significant Findings Of Justice Richard Chisholm In Respect Of The Expert Medical Evidence In That Case As To The Causation Of Transsexualism And As Strongly Affirmed By The Full Court (Australian Family Court) On Appeal. Deakin Law Review 2004 v22

That will do as a start. Once you've read them - and some are fairly heavy going, which is why I only give selected highlights - I'll give you the other batches. It's only going to be a surperficial treatment of the subject, as much of the works are dead-tree only, or pay-per-view.

I've never actually encountered a Fundamentalist Post-Modernist before, who viewed scientific journal articles as nothing more than "activist campaign sheets".

I eagerly await the evidence you had for forming your own, contrary views.
...but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, 30 October 2009

The Same Old Lies

A Group in Gainesville, Florida made the following commercial. It has no resemblance to the truth, but that didn't stop them.

Since the ordnance was passed, none of the dire predictions have come to fruition. They know that. Everyone knows that, and wonders what gave them the idea that such lies could possibly be true.

Now in Kalamazoo, a like-minded group have made another commercial.

It may work this time. Tell the same lie over and over again, and some will think that it might be true.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

From the Dr. Oz Website: When the Sexes Collide

A program about Intersex. Click on the play icon on the middle, then at the bottom left if it says the program is unavailable.

It's a program showing the ignorance of one non-specialist medic that so often leads to surgery that blights lives. When the Intersexed woman in the audience speaks, just look at the expressions of discomfort in those around her.

And then listen to what the Mom of an IS child has to say at the end.

I think my hormones are out of balance at the moment, because I'm crying now as I type this. But then again, maybe not.

Ares 1-X Launch

It's not the Ares 1, but the Ares 1-X. Something that resembles the final model, but is completely different in many, or even most, ways.

It's not a complete waste of time, as many have said. Sure, the upper stage is a dummy. And the lower stage is completely different from the planned one. But they got to test some important things, that while not glamorous, are still necessary. The more you do on a mockup-launch, the less uncertainty there will be with the real thing. Things like hose-connectors. Retention bolts. Paint. The launch pad itself. The tracking systems. The basic aerodynamics up to 130,000 ft.

Because the upper stage is just a dummy, after booster separation, both first and second stages just tumble close to one another. The solid booster was recovered by parachute - after all, it's an unmodified Shuttle component, unlike the real booster, so this is proven technology already. And the rest of it is boilerplate that splashed down in the Atlantic, downrange. I won't say "re-entered", because it never left the atmosphere, separation was at 130,000 ft.

Anyway the launch removes some possible surprises, and without such a launch beforehand, the first launch of the real thing (if it ever happens) will be a measureably riskier proposition. So it's not a complete waste of time. Not quite.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Genes and Transsexuality

From Association study of gender identity disorder and sex hormone-related genes by Ujike et al, Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Oct 1;33(7):1241-4.:
To investigate the biological mechanism of gender identity disorder (GID), five candidate sex hormone-related genes, encoding androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta), aromatase (CYP19), and progesterone receptor (PGR) were analyzed by a case-control association study. Subjects were 242 transsexuals (74 male-to-female patients (MTF) and 168 female-to-male patients (FTM)), and 275 healthy age- and geographical origin-matched controls (106 males and 169 females). The distributions of CAG repeat numbers in exon 1 of AR, TA repeat numbers in the promoter region of ERalpha, CA repeat numbers in intron 5 of ERbeta, TTTA repeat numbers in intron 4 of CYP19, and six polymorphisms (rs2008112, rs508653, V660L, H770H, rs572698 and PROGINS) of PGR were analyzed. No significant difference in allelic or genotypic distribution of any gene examined was found between MTFs and control males or between FTMs and control females. The present findings do not provide any evidence that genetic variants of sex hormone-related genes confer individual susceptibility to MTF or FTM transsexualism.
Compare and contrast with Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism by Hare at al in Biol.Psych. Vol65, Issue 1, Pp 93-96, as described rather breathlessly by the popular press :

There is a likely genetic component to transsexualism, and genes involved in sex steroidogenesis are good candidates. We explored the specific hypothesis that male-to-female transsexualism is associated with gene variants responsible for undermasculinization and/or feminization. Specifically, we assessed the role of disease-associated repeat length polymorphisms in the androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor β (ERβ), and aromatase (CYP19) genes.

Subject-control analysis included 112 male-to-female transsexuals and 258 non-transsexual males. Associations and interactions were investigated between CAG repeat length in the AR gene, CA repeat length in the ERβ gene, and TTTA repeat length in the CYP19 gene and male-to-female transsexualism.

A significant association was identified between transsexualism and the AR allele, with transsexuals having longer AR repeat lengths than non-transsexual male control subjects (p = .04). No associations for transsexualism were evident in repeat lengths for CYP19 or ERβ genes. Individuals were then classified as short or long for each gene polymorphism on the basis of control median polymorphism lengths in order to further elucidate possible combined effects. No interaction associations between the three genes and transsexualism were identified.

This study provides evidence that male gender identity might be partly mediated through the androgen receptor.
The results were identical for the CYP19 and ERβ genes. The samples sizes were comparable. But the results appear to differ for the AR gene.

Maybe not. One experiment, the one showing no evidence of correlation, examined only exon 1 of the AR gene, the one for which tests are most easily available as it has an association with prostate cancer and certain other conditions. The other appears not to have confined itself to exon 1. If so, then instead of a contradiction that casts doubt on the original findings, we may just have narrowed down the area that could make someone slightly more susceptible to being TS. And it is a slight susceptibility, 10% more likely at most. Again, compare and contrast to exposure to the anti-abortifacient drug DES, an estrogenic (female sex hormone) compound during the first trimester of foetal development. There it's not ~10%, it's ~50,000%.

We can also have greater confidence that neither the CYP19 nor ERβ genes play any role.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Monday, 26 October 2009

Why do they have to cut so deep, Martha?

From On The Issues:
On a November night in 1958, I was playing in the bathtub in the cheery, country home of my childhood. I was six years old. My mother came in and sat on the edge of the tub, her kind face looking worried. I glanced up at her, wondering, "Time to get out so soon?" She told me that I had to go to the hospital the next day for an operation. I knew this was about something between my legs. My chest felt tight and there was a rushing sound in my ears. I begged not to go. Please. But my mother told me only that I must. Not a word was said about what was going to happen or why. The next day, it took the surgeon 30 minutes to make a U-shaped incision around my half-inch clitoris, remove it, and put it in a specimen dish to send to the lab. He then closed the wound and stitched the skin up over the stump.

Take no comfort in the fact that this took place 40 years ago. Today, most parents and doctors in this country are still unable to see that a child has a right to her or his own sexual body, even if that body is deemed "abnormal" by their standards. If a parent is uncomfortable, a doctor can be found who will be willing to make irreversible changes in the child's body, in order to ease that discomfort. My gynecologist told me about a case in which he had been involved the year before: A woman brought her five-year-old daughter to his office in Minneapolis; the mother felt that the child's clitoris was too big. He examined the girl and assured the mother that her daughter would grow into her clitoris, which was no longer than the end of his little finger. The mother left. A few weeks later, he was called into an operating room to help another doctor who had run into trouble during a surgical procedure. On the table, he found the same little girl he had seen earlier. She was hemorrhaging from a clitorectomy attempted by the second doctor, from instructions he had read in a medical text. My physician stopped the bleeding, and managed to keep the girl's clitoris mostly intact.
Doctors then told Angela's parents that if she didn't have surgery she might kill herself when she found out that she was different from other girls. It had happened to another patient, the physicians said, and it could happen to Angela. Although such speculation is not a lie, it is also not the whole truth. In my talks with scores of people with atypical genitals, it is those who have been surgically altered as children and left alone with their trauma who most often become suicidal. The isolation from others who have experienced what we are going through, the loneliness, is what kills us. Angela's parents were justifiably frightened and agreed to the surgery.

Doctors then told Angela's parents that if she didn't have surgery she might kill herself when she found out that she was different from other girls

The final lie was to Angela herself, with her distraught parents' complicity. She was told, at her physicians' suggestion, that her nonexistent ovaries could become cancerous and that she would have to go into the hospital and have them removed.

In 1985, at a leading children's hospital in Chicago, doctors removed the testes from Angela's abdomen. The clitoris that had brought her so much joy was not merely shortened, it was all but destroyed. She woke up and discovered the extent of the deceit: "I put my hand down there and felt something like the crusty top of some horrible casserole, like dried caked blood where my clitoris was. I wondered why no one told me and I just figured it was the kind of thing decent people don't talk about."
In 1965, Annie Green, then three years old, took a car trip with her father from the small town in Idaho where she lived to Spokane, Wash. She sat in the back seat with her stuffed animal, unaware that she was on her way to the hospital. The next day doctors removed her inch-long clitoris. She was never given any explanation of her surgery. As she got older, her attempts to find pleasure in masturbation failed, and she began to suspect that she was very different from other girls. Then, during a visit to her sister's house as a teenager, she found the book Our Bodies, Ourselves: "I studied the female anatomy and read about sex from that book. That was when I learned I didn't have a clitoris. I remember looking at the diagram, feeling myself, and reading what a clitoris was over and over. My God, I couldn't figure out why I didn't have one. I couldn't fathom anyone removing it if it was that important. I was stunned, and I held it all in. I was only 14. I became depressed. I was disgusted with my body, and I thought there was no hope that I would ever be loved by anyone. I became a little teenage alcoholic. I drank heavily every weekend. I really blew it because I had been a really good athlete and an honor student."
John Gearhart, a pediatric urologist at Johns Hopkins, has said, "To compare genital mutilation of young girls in Africa to reconstructive surgery of a young baby is a giant, giant leap of misrepresentation." But neither Dr. Gearhart, nor anyone else, has ever bothered to ask those of us subjected to clitoral surgery as children if being taken to the hospital without explanation, having your healthy genitals cut and scarred, then left alone with the results feels like mutilation or "reconstructive surgery." Gearhart's mistake is to judge surgery only by the surgeon's intent, and not by the effect on the child. I spoke with a woman recently who is young enough to be my daughter. With great effort, she told me of her clitoral surgery as a child. She implored me, "Why do they have to cut so deep, Martha? Why do they do that?"
And that is why the paper Pink or Blue? A Rights-Based Framework for Medical Intervention with Intersex Infants (PDF) by the Tasmanian Children's Commisioner for the 5th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights is so important.
AISSG Australia has published72 a Preferred Treatment Paradigm For Children With Intersex Conditions:.
The AIS Support Group Australia supports calls for a moratorium on non-urgent medical intervention in children with intersex conditions. This includes gonadectomies on children with AIS and clitoral recession, but does not mean all surgeries should be stopped completely. The preferred treatment paradigm of the AIS Support Group Australia is simple:
1. Obtain an accurate diagnosis from an expert in intersex conditions – preferably an experienced Paediatric Endocrinologist.
2. Raise the child as a boy or a girl - depending on medical advice and with the complete support of the parents.
3. Give parents complete information about their child’s condition. A booklet describing the condition is best so they can refer to it if they have any questions between doctor visits.
4. Offer the parents and any other family members peer support and professional counselling.
5. If surgery is medically required, discuss all treatment options with the parents including the consequences of not having the surgery. Ensure parents are given the opportunity to ask questions and seek support and counselling. A period of several weeks to consider alternatives is also advised if medically possible.
6. Ideally a child should be educated about their condition in stages as they become old enough to understand certain concepts.
7. When a child with an intersex condition is around 12 years old (or just prior to puberty), they should be given professional counselling and told about options to treat their condition. Counselling should also include an opportunity for the child to openly discuss their gender. This will give those raised in the incorrect gender an opportunity to voice this to the counsellor.
8. From this point on, the child’s consent should be given for any further medical intervention, including hormone therapy.
9. If the diagnosis of an intersex condition is made later in life, doctors should still provide their patient with complete disclosure and offer the contact details of the AIS Support Group Australia.

To the AISSG list I would merely add
10. If irreversible surgery or irreversible endocrine therapy is proposed to commence before the child’s 18th birthday, that an application be made for the authority or approval of a suitably informed and expeditious Court or Tribunal of competent jurisdiction including as parties the parents, the child and an independent representative for the child’s separate interests.

The Commissioner for Children is an independent, statutory office responsible to the Parliament of Tasmania. The Commissioner’s functions include promoting the rights and well-being of children and young people, examining and advising the Government on policies, practices and services provided for children and laws affecting their health, welfare, care, protection and development.

Please read the whole thing.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Crazy Years

From Spider Robinson
"In 1939, the greatest science fiction writer who ever lived, Robert Anson Heinlein, produced one of the first of the many stunning innovations he was to bring to his field: he sat down and drew up a chart of the history of the future, for the next few thousand years...

"And in Heinlein's Future History chart, the last decades of the twentieth century--the ones he wrote abut and discussed as seldom as possible--were clearly and ominously marked: 'the Crazy Years.'

"I discussed this with him several times before his death in 1988. He had decided--half a century in advance--that a combination of information overload, overpopulation and Millenia Madness were going to drive our whole culture slug-nutty by the end of the century." pg. 4, "The Crazy Years: A Mission Statement"
From the (Right Wing) Free Republic :
An official announcement by the Obama administration disclosing the reality of extraterrestrial life is imminent. For several months, senior administration officials have been quietly deliberating behind closed doors how much to disclose to the world about extraterrestrial life. Dissatisfaction among powerful institutions such as the U.S. Navy over the decades-long secrecy policy has given a boost to efforts to disclose the reality of extraterrestrial life and technology.
It is to solidify atheistic beliefs among the sheeple.
Desperation has taken hold when the administration ‘lets it out’ that extraterrestrials are among us, order to divert attention from their screw-ups.
Yea no doubt that these so-called aliens will bring us a message about how we can save the earth from capitalism created global warming or climate change.

The left-wing base would be so thrilled to hear Obama and even Gore rush to the forefront in front of the United Nations to usher in a New Day of alien enlightenment for all of mankind.
A brick in the wall of denial for the rapture.
“It is to solidify atheistic beliefs among the sheeple.”

The most serious answer yet. Makes sense.

Still I spewed beer all over my keyboard reading most of the other posts so far.

But I appreciated that I got a serious response right off the bat.

Strange article.
There is an old paperback book titled Being...written by Michael Redfinn. It’s a story about Aliens visits, a half alien, half human that become a powerful world leader. There is a biblical part of the story too...the aliens are really satan and his minions that begin the tribulation. Find it and read it....its an ineresting scenario and a good read. What better way for satan to take over and cut across all cultural and religious barriers than to pose as a powerful extraterrestrial
Yes, I have seen good cases made for the possibility that the explanation for the disappearance of millions of people will be that beings from outer space came and took them away so that the real enlightened ones, the progressive people of the world, could finally have their utopia without primitive Jesus freaks standing in the way. Now it appears more and more likely as though that will, indeed, be the official "evidence" presented to the world for what will actually be the Rapture.

Now that we see that a big announcement may be imminent, that there may be an acknowledgment by "important officials" that, indeed, there is extraterrestrial life, and, of course, these beings are completely benign and only want to help mankind, Satan may be taking his deception to a new level.

Will UFOs Ride In To Save The Day?

The UFO Demon Connection

This announcement, if it turns out to be true, is yet another piece on the Bible prophecy chessboard that is being maneuvered into place.

If you are a person who knows Jesus Christ as your Savior, there has never been a more exciting time to be alive!
It looks as if they already may be.

Through Scripture, and Christ Himself, we know that the real power behind human governments are Satanic. Satan knows his fate, he knows the Bible and he knows when the time will get close for Jesus' return.

Governments will "get cracking on this" when the puppeteer directs them to.
Surprise, surprise,

they are behind the chip ID implant . . . that OThuga has had put in the health care bill—no care without the chip implant.

Can you spell MARK OF THE BEAST?

Walk on by . . . nothing here.
The Assoc. for Biblical Astronomy
is a Ministry of the Mantua Country Baptist Church
This site is devoted to the historical relationship between the Bible and astronomy. It assumes that whenever the two are at variance, it is always astronomy—that is, our "reading" of the "Book of Nature," not our reading of the Holy Bible—that is wrong. History bears consistent witness to the truth of that stance.
The Hamas Charter, Article 22 :
'The enemies have been scheming for a long time ... and have accumulated huge and influential material wealth. With their money, they took control of the world media... With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the globe... They stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about... With their money they formed secret organizations - such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions - which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests... They stood behind World War I ... and formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains... There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it.'
Comments on a petition by the Chicago Surrealist Movement to "Stop NASA from bombing the Moon" :
When I heard about this I was deeply disturbed-in shock in fact. I figured it must be a joke because the idea of it is so incredibly freakish. The desire to disrupt such a vital element of our universe shows just how tragic humanity has become. Let's not let this happen. The Moon belongs intact, and I certainly don't want the travesty to be hanging over my country's head.
I think it's ridiculous that most people are only just learning about this and some still have no clue. We should have been asked about this. The moon is not the property of nasa. We should all be able to have our say and I believe the majority would say this is absolutely stupid and unnecessary. Many cultures worship or hold a reverance for the moon and this is disrespectful to say the very least. The moon is a vital part of our life on earth, we should be protecting it not doing anything that may possibly cause it damage.
Since I was a little girl I have always felt a strong connection to our Moon, I found comfort, strength, and a strange sense being one with the Moon. Before bed each night I would stare with wonder at the bright silver globe that positioned herself as a silent guardian in the night sky, watching over us with her protective glow. Now, at 40 yrs of age, I still have that tradition of looking up at the Moon before sleeping, because, when you think about it, the Moon has always been there since the dawn of time, and even amidst an ever-changing world filled with violence, chaos, deceitfulness, devastating natural disasters, never-eding wars, and death, She has been the one constant in the lives of humans. Everything else has changed in one way or another, but not Her, not our Moon, she has remained the same for eons of time, and now, mankind has yet once again decided on an insanhe course that can only leave in its wake extreme, devastsing effects on our beloved Mother Earth and the human race that will be irreversable. Why are they doing this at all? So, why, in a time when we are all on the downside of a financial catastrophe, have over-populated countries, hungry, homeless people, and no where near enough money to solve the financial problems we are facing worldwide, why, are they going to waste billions of dollars to blow a hole in our Moon? The stupidity of mankind and their poor choices never fail to astonish me, and as for "our President Obama", what happen to his big talk about change? But then I guess we will all see a massive change worldwide when he allows the bombing of the Moon to actually occur. If you want to know wher Obabma stands inregards to his sympathy for the American peoples plight and the continued stability of the Universe and the Moon, just look into his eyes when he is speaking about love, peace and unity for all of mankind, the eyes belie his impassioned words. May the Goddess protect us all from this insanity. Love to you all.
"If the true intent of the LCROSS mission moon bombing is a hostile act by NASA against known extraterrestrial civilizations and settlements on the moon, then NASA and by extension the U.S. government are guilty of aggressive war which is the most serious of war crimes under the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is subject.
I dont believe, that any government of any country on planet Earth can think Moon belongs just to them and they can bomb it or do anything on it! Planet Moon is minimally the "property" of all governments on planet Earth, and also not just of people, but as well animals, plants and all life - as all Earth life depends on it! You disbalandce just a part of this harmony, and chain reactions of disaster after disastre will come. Stop to behave so egoistically and foolishly, please!
There are so many things that the moon has impact on. Once that changes there will be a reaction. PLEASE don't allow NASA to bomb the moon. Some things we just don't need to know.
I'd say Heinlein was right. I originally thought that the majority of the comments were in jest - but follow-ups indicate otherwise. From Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?
Despite the unprecedented explosion of scientific knowledge that has occurred in recent decades and its pervasive impact on our lives, a 2004 National Science Board survey revealed that almost 30% of America’s adults do not know that Earth revolves around the sun, 22% do not know that the center of Earth is very hot, and over half do not know that electrons are smaller than atoms. Only half the population is aware that dinosaurs and humans never coexisted. Another poll indicated that at least 25% of American adults believe in astrology—no doubt more than believe in the principles of astronomy. And, according to a NASA survey, fully 15% of America’s adults do not believe that humans have gone to the moon.
From Answers in Genesis :
The high number of Australian university students who admitted in a poll that they accept the Bible’s account of creation as literally true has unsettled the poll-takers.

Up to one in every five first-year biology students said they believed the Genesis account of creation and rejected the theory of evolution.

Results of the Australian Institute of Biology poll were released in June. They revealed that 4,255 students at 17 universities responded to the survey on attitudes to creation and evolution. Of these, 535 said they believed ‘God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.’

President of the biology institute, anti-creationist Professor Roger Kitching, said he was opposed to the book of Genesis’s ‘primitive mythology about life on earth’.

‘We can’t have science with mysticism built into it’, he said.

Of concern to Christians were the 43 per cent of students who said they believed life had arisen through evolution and that God had taken no part.

The Sydney Morning Herald, June 13, 1992.

The West Australian, June 23, 1992, p. 4.

A Gallup Poll in the United States last November found that 47 per cent of those surveyed believed God had created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Another Part of the Puzzle

From the University of Uppsala :
Sex-based prenatal brain differences found

Prenatal sex-based biological differences extend to genetic expression in cerebral cortices. The differences in question are probably associated with later divergences in how our brains develop. This is shown by a new study by Uppsala University researchers Elena Jazin and Björn Reinius, which has been published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Professor Elena Jazin and doctoral student Björn Reinius at the Department of Physiology and Developmental Biology previously demonstrated that genetic expression in the cerebral cortices of human beings and other primates exhibits certain sex-based differences. It is presumed that these differences are very old and have survived the evolutionary process. The purpose of the new study was to determine whether they appear during the process of brain development or first upon the conclusion of that process. Identifying the initial genetic mechanisms that prompt the brain to develop in a female or male direction is a long-range research objective.

The Uppsala University researchers analysed data, on the basis of sex, from another extensive study of the prenatal human brain.

"The results show that many of the genes situated on the Y chromosome are expressed in various parts of the brain prior to birth and probably provide a developmental basis for the sex-based differences exhibited by adult brains," according to Elena Jazin.

More than a third of Y-chromosomal genes appear to be involved in sex-based human brain differentiation. Some of the genetic activity in question is evident in the adult brain, while other of it only appears at earlier stages of brain development. It is yet unknown whether the differences in genetic expression among female and male brains have any functional significance.

"The findings are consistent with other factors, such as environment, also playing a role in how we develop," emphasizes Elena Jazin.

Knowledge of the development of sex-based brain differences is of potential significance for the treatment of brain disturbances and diseases. A large number of psychiatric illnesses, including depression and autism, affect men and women differentially.

"Taking account of sex-based differences is crucial to the study of normal and abnormal brain activity," according to Elena Jazin.
One of the mysteries we haven't yet solved is why trans women's brains develop differently in adulthood from those of males. Some of the differences between males and female brains - like the infamous BSTc layer in the hypothalamus that is cross-gendered in trans people - only develop the difference in adulthood. Yet transsexuality is obvious long before then, in the vast majority of cases. The neurological differences that appear only in adulthood are symptomatic, not causal. This research might help us understand why, if only by showing areas of sexual differentiation that are not contingent on the presence of a Y-chromosome. What is the mechanism of such neurological predestination?

The penny is starting to drop, even in the popular press. From the UK Daily Mail:
There are a number of structural and functional differences between male and female brains.

The human brain is divided into two hemispheres that do different things. They are connected by the corpus callosum, a thick band of nerve tissue that carries information between the two.

This band of nerves is slightly larger, on average, in women than in men - which means the emotional right side of the brain is better connected to the analytical left side.

This may be why women are more emotionally aware. It may also allow emotion to be incorporated more readily into thought and speech.

When doing complex tasks, women use both sides of their brain, while men use the side more obviously suited to the task.
Over-simplified, dumbed down, but essentially correct - and you don't have to be a neuroscientist to grasp the essentials.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

You know you're on the Internet too much

When Google suggests your name. Try typing in "zoe br". I had no idea. Scary.

Thanks for this info to someone who is a a little sceptical about me, and whose opinion of me is less than complimentary. But who paid me the highest compliment I can think of, anyway, claiming that the pictures of me showed that either I must have had FFS (Facial Feminisation Surgery) or were photoshopped. Coming from her, I know that it wasn't something said just to make me feel good.

UPDATE : Thanks so much for all the e-mails and PMs of support on this one, and the concern over my feelings. My attitude is that since the person who called me a "waste of genetic material" has got some very fundamental misconceptions about the basic facts, that I can't value her opinions very highly. Nor do I consider her to be unreasonable. She's formed her opinions based on completely false premises, but I can see how her conclusions would be quite logical if their foundations even remotely resembled reality. Perhaps she was a little undiplomatic, that's all.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Stating the Obvious

The IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Who likes protandric hermaphrodites?

From Deep Sea News:
Who likes protandric hermaphrodites?
Hermaphrodiitism is rare in mammals and birds and probably explains why they are really boring. In fish and invertebrates on the other hand, hermaphroditism occurs in high frequency. Clown fish, those cute little fish promoted by Disney…protandrous hermaphrodites. Does the conservative right know Disney is promoting hermaphroditism?

A recent study adds another species to the list. Work by Tyler et al. finds that Idas washingtonia, a deep-sea clam, is a protandric hermaphrodite. Idas is a small clam found inhabiting dead whale carcasses on the deep-sea floor. So what triggers the switch from male to female? 6mm.

At ~6mm males, males lose the man bits and gain some lady bits. Then begins formation of unfertilized eggs. Apparently, not many males make 6mm and become female. That’s reserved for a lucky 12%.
My answer? Not Many. Especially not Theologians and Bureaucrats.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Web Surfing, Transsexuality, Schizophrenia, and the Frontal Gyrus

From Fox News:
Adults with little Internet experience show changes in their brain activity after just one week online, a new study finds.

The results suggest Internet training can stimulate neural activation patterns and could potentially enhance brain function and cognition in older adults.

As the brain ages, a number of structural and functional changes occur, including atrophy, or decay, reductions in cell activity and increases in complex things like deposits of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which can impact cognitive function.

Research has shown that mental stimulation similar to the stimulation that occurs in individuals who frequently use the Internet may affect the efficiency of cognitive processing and alter the way the brain encodes new information.

"We found that for older people with minimal experience, performing Internet searches for even a relatively short period of time can change brain activity patterns and enhance function," Dr. Gary Small, study author and professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, said in a statement.
The first scan of participants with little Internet experience showed brain activity in the regions controlling language, reading, memory and visual abilities. The second brain scan of these participants, conducted after the home practice searches, demonstrated activation of these same regions, but there was also activity in the middle frontal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus – areas of the brain known to be important in working memory and decision-making.

From a previous post :
In a paper, published in Neuron, Dr. John Roder, Senior Investigator at the Lunenfeld, and Bechara Saab, Ph.D candidate at the Lunenfeld, studied the interaction of two proteins in a small region of the brain called the dentate gyrus (part of the hippocampus, which plays a role in long-term memory and spatial navigation).

For the study, the neuronal calcium sensor-1 (NCS-1), a protein which is known to affect the memory of worms and is linked to bipolar and schizophrenia in people, was increased by one-and-a-half fold specifically in the dentate gyrus of mouse models. This modest overexpression increased the ability of brain cells to change how they communicate with each other and gave the mice superior memory in complex tasks and a significant increase in exploratory behaviour (curiosity).

And another :
...we detected significant differences between MTF transsexuals, males, and females in a large number of regions across the brain. More specifically, within the frontal lobe, we observed gray matter volume differences bilaterally in the superior frontal gyrus, close to midline and also at the frontal pole, as well as within the right orbital gyrus.
There have been studies that have indicated up to a 30-point increase in IQ for Trans people compared to the general population. I'm not sure how reliable these studies are, and the difference is statistical anyway: people differ. However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that TS people are not just over-represented, but grossly over-represented, in certain professions, in particular those involving both creative and logical thinking. How much of this is due to ostracism at school leading to a concentration on schoolwork (and consequent advantage in professions later), and how much due to neurology is a matter for conjecture. Given so many TS people drop out of school due to persecution, it's even possible that the effect of atypical neurology is masked to some degree.

Note also the possible connection with schizophrenia. We know that this is associated with creativity so enormous that it becomes pathological, seeing things that are not there. We also know that schizophrenia is associated with a "de-sexing" of the brain, where the sexually differentiated areas become closer to a mean between the sexes.

Anyway, these are mere signs and portents, and may be of no significance. They do suggest fruitful lines of research to pursue though. Every nugget of knowledge we mine from Mother nature's lode starts as a mere conjecture, before experimentation reveals it.

Friday, 16 October 2009

I don't like to think about it

A story with a few minor changes. I find that swapping a few semantic tokens is a useful tool in examining contentious issues.
Depositions filed in the case of a racially mixed woman who was fired from her job as an editor for the Georgia General Assembly are shedding new light on the causes for her dismissal as she attempts to regain her job.

The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Vandy Beth Glenn after she was fired from her job as a legislative editor in 2007 when she announced that she was of mixed race rather than being white.

At issue is whether Georgia Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby acted legally when he fired Glenn.

During his May 11 deposition, filed with the U.S. District Court of Northern Georgia on Sept. 21, Brumby candidly discusses his distaste for Glenn’s mongrelisation, and acknowledges that he fired Glenn knowing that it would likely result in a lawsuit.
“I think it would have made it very uncomfortable and emotionally upsetting for me to communicate with Mr. Morrison under those circumstances, and I imagined that some other number of our employees would feel likewise,” Brumby said of Vandy Beth Glenn’s intention to transition on the job.

He also expressed personal concerns about his reaction to Glenn’s revelation that she was "passing for white".

“It makes me think about things I don’t like to think about, particularly at work … I think it’s unsettling to think of someone who looks white but is actually black” Brumby said.

Brumby couldn’t explain to Cole Thaler, the NAACP attorney representing Glenn, why it was upsetting.

“It's not something that I enjoy thinking about, and I think it would have been unsettling to have a constant reminder to think about something I don’t like to think about,” he said.
Although legislative editors work in a windowless room that is not accessible to the public, rarely leave their offices during the General Assembly, and have negligible contact with lawmakers, Brumby thought Glenn’s revelation could cause problems for his office.

“I think some members of the legislature would view that having a black in our office as perhaps immoral, perhaps unnatural, and perhaps, if you will, liberal or ultra-liberal,” he said. “Our office works for 236 members of the legislature from all political persuasions, and I think some of those members would have diminished confidence in the operation if that happened.”

The legislative counsel writes the actual bills that legislators propose, and occasionally defends lawmakers in court. Since the office works with all members of the House and Senate, Brumby said he had to avoid actions that could seem partisan.

To see just how few the changes made were, read the Southern Voice.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Actually... this is true

From OII Australia:

I was prescribed Androcur just before the diagnosis was changed to "severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman". There are quite a number of IS women on this list of male sex offenders. I'm one of them.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Not mine, alas. I'm still working on that.

No, this one is Are You A Boy or A Girl? Contesting the Uncontested: Intersex and Genders, a PhD thesis by Stephen Kerry held by the University of Newcastle, NSW.
One question that is perhaps most familiar in contemporary western societies is "is it a boy or a girl?" This question goes uncontested unless a child is born with ambiguous genitalia. The medical responses to these births have recently undergone considerable attention and criticism from within the medical profession, from parents, but most loudly from the individuals themselves. In contemporary discourses these individuals are referred to by and large as intersex. The burgeoning intersex movement has coalesced around a shared lived experience of trauma brought about in no small way by the invasive procedures of medical management in its attempts to diagnose, treat and cure.

These procedures leave intersex individuals with feelings of isolation and abuse and that they have been lied to and misinformed. A "culture of silence" has been created whereby not only has the incidence of intersex been vastly underestimated, but also the psychological, social and physical ramifications have been omitted from medical, patient and broader social discourses. While intersex individuals cite their own experiences as evidence of these ramifications, the medical profession has been largely unresponsive.

Aside from the demand for more information, counselling and a change in the medical management of intersex, there are broader ramifications of intersex within society, notably a conceptualisation of sex, gender and sexuality. While these aspects are secondary issues for the intersex movement its presence and its significance cannot be understated. This study takes note of the significant issues pertinent to the intersex movement and employs a comparative analysis of the lived experiences of Intersex Australians and Americans. Further, this project investigates the historical and crosscultural evidence of intersex, the way in which medical discourses dominate twentieth and twenty-first century conceptualisations and how the intersex movement itself was formed in the last decade.
I admit that when I see the words "discourses" and "conceptualisation", and especially the phrase "social discourses", I'm reminded of Alan Sokal.
However, a reading of the work indicates that such a judgement would be most premature. Which is to say, no, it's not bunkum after all. You can only measure the BS proportion in parts-per-million, in fact.
Aside from the demand for more information, counselling and a change in the medical management of intersex, there are broader ramifications of intersex within society, notably a conceptualisation of sex, gender and sexuality. While these aspects are secondary issues for the intersex movement its presence and its significance cannot be understated.
I think he means "cannot be overstated", or possibly "should not be understated", but I prefer the original. I'm not overly concerned with philosophical underpinnings, I just want babies to stop being mutilated. The basics.

One for the Reference library, anyway. Only a 1.6Mb download too...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

An Evening with Lynette

It's not every day that you have dinner with an erstwhile Sandhurst lecturer who's taught the Prince of Wales.

I've always admired Lynette Nusbacher for a number of reasons. First for her ability to enliven Military History in her appearances on various programs on the History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, BBC2 etc etc. Her passion for the subject is obvious. She's also one of the few women who knows considerably more about the subject than I do. A role model for female military historians everywhere.

Second, as a woman who endured the slings and arrows of an outrageous press corps during her unavoidably public transition from her former incarnation as Aryeh, and did so with grace and quiet courage. I did a little in her defence on some military fora here and there when she was unable to comment herself, and although I didn't do very much, she appreciated what I was able to do. It helped.

She's currently working on sensitive issues, so we couldn't talk shop. But we did have a long natter over dinner, I introduced her to Roo and Beetroot at a fairly upmarket restaurant - as a way of saying thanks for her work - and we discussed the intricacies of adjusting one's SCA persona as the result of transition. A lot of talk about our children, of course, and various other subjects. I left her with a bottle of Politarchopolis Port (AS XXVI) and a packet of double-choc coated Tim Tams. The former for a forthcoming coronet tournament, the latter to be shared with her daughters.

And if I had not transitioned, I never would have met her.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Today's Battles.

Well, a few of the many over the last week.

First Cab off the rank, the Calgary Herald, where a state-funded school run by a Catholic diocese decided that they couldn't possibly have a transsexual teacher, as they were "insufficiently Catholic". Odd, since the guy is Lutheran, and that never caused a problem. Odder, in that the school isn't a private Catholic school, the local diocese just subcontracts to run it, so they're not allowed to discriminate based on religious dogma. Odder still, that they don't actually know what the Vatican says on the subject.

Staying in Canada, and in Toronto they're holding the III World Congress on Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development. With interactive surgical demonstrations on how to help Intersexed children. Or all too often, "help" them so that they are no bother to society.
When medics use the best possible techniques for determining “real” sex, they get it wrong 1 time in 10.

The average is 1 time in 3.

When they do get it wrong, the patient is diagnosed as mentally ill for stubbornly insisting that the sex they were surgically re-assigned to is incorrect.

There are several competing priorities: the first is to not upset society by having a child look different. This can lead to the child being persecuted when young. The second is to not upset the parents, who may reject and maltreat a child who looks different. The third is to end up with a child whose body is functional.

In order to reliably achieve the third aim, there must be a period of 3-7 years wait until the child can tell us what sex they are. Some children are bigendered, able to function in either gender role. Most are not, and so if you arbitrarily assign a sex at random, you end up with a bad result slightly less than 50% of the time. About 1 in 3.

However, without immediate surgery, the child may suffer rejection and abuse from the parents and society at large.

The obvious therapy is to change societal attitudes and provide therapy for the parents rather than surgically mutilate infants. This however has been deemed too hard, or would take too long. It’s easier to just castrate the kids, and after all, most turn out OK. The rest you can just label insane, and disregard them.

Doctors have seen far too many abused and rejected children, and wish to prevent that. They’re not monsters, they’re trying to do what they think is best… except that they have visceral revulsion of children who look different too, so are not objective.

On to the thriving metropolis of Kalamazoo, and an ordnance passed by the city council that would prevent overt discrimination against gays and trans people.
Aaron Davis: There are already laws in effect against discrimination so this new ordinance is something special. People need to understand this new ordinance. This new ordinance means that if a man that thinks he is a woman, he could just put on a dress and go in the girls’ restroom because he feels that way at that time. I say no. Because I have children, they don’t need to be exposed to that if we are at some public venue. So no again to special rights.
*SIGH*. My comment:
I can't understand Mr Davis' attitude. He must know that such laws are already in force in 13 states, covering 38% of the US population. And that such events as he describes don't occur. They haven't done, not once, in the 33 years since the first laws of this kind were passed.

Is it wilful blindness? Inability to understand the most simple concepts? Frightening gullibility? Or is he just pandering to bigots? In any event, it casts doubt on his suitability for any public office, even third assistant dogcatcher, let alone any position of responsibility in government.
Fortunately, the other commissioners have two brain-cells that fire consecutively. Unfortunately, the Big Lie is a political technique used by the unscrupulous that works more often than not. We'll see.

Finally on to the Washington Post, and a book review: The Tiny Differences in the Littlest Brains By Emily Bazelon : a review of PINK BRAIN, BLUE BRAIN - How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- and What We Can Do About It By Lise Elio.

My comment:
The problem with philosophical and ideological theories is that they have practical consequences.

For example, it is common practice to castrate boys born with genitalia that is not deemed sufficiently masculine by the doctors and parents. Intersexed children with anomalous genitalia are usually surgically assigned a mostly female body as "it's easier to make a hole than a pole". In the 1 in 3 cases where the assignment is incorrect, and doesn't match the congenital neuroanatomy the child is classified as "mentally ill" with "gender identity disorder not otherwise specified", and surgery to correct the mistake refused on that basis.
I then went on to quote Prof Ecker on the subject, as well as The Story of 'R'. Most people don't know about this stuff you see, and see it as a harmless philosophical debate, with little application to reality.

I know different. Sometimes I wish I didn't.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

I Blame Blogging

For a show like The Hungry Beast.

It's original. It certainly doesn't conform to any known pattern. "Some strange, some silly, and some serious TV." Which sounds a bit like the philosophy here : "Intermittent postings from Canberra, Australia on Software Development, Space, Politics, and Interesting URLs. And of course, Brains..."

It's a pot-pourri, a smorgasbord of stories, some sweet, some sour, some savoury, and some unsavoury. Something to tickle every palate, and nauseate a few too. To some, the contrasts will be like a Fish Milkshake. To others, the bite of the satirical comedy highlights the real effects on people's lives of tragedy. Not that they need highlighting - the film-makers present reality raw, unspun, even a little rough around the edges, but above all, honest.

It's life.

It's also quintessentially Australian in character. I know of no other country that could produce a program like this one. Few would want to, it's too unsophisticated for those who take themselves terribly, terribly seriously. How can you do a story puncturing sacred cows in the media, add one on a cat who cons little old ladies, then follow up by the heart-wrenching story of a soldier's widow? That was just in the first episode. The more serious stuff has extended versions available on the show's website, what's put on air is more of an abstract than a complete story.

Nat and I recently found out how they do business. No makeup, no pretence, and the only re-takes are when an aircraft goes by or a lawnmower starts up. 95% of the take will end up on the cutting-room floor - the segments can only be 5 minutes long - but what there is is unfiltered reality. They threw away the rulebook, and made their own.

There'll be an episode with a story on Intersex in the near future. Of two different people, of different ages, but sharing a common situation. Two people, friends, who meet in 3D for the first time. Both with a burning desire to inform the public about Intersexuality, just by being themselves. We can't all hide, all the time.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Screwtape Letters

CS Lewis's classic Christian apologia is now available online.
From a review:
Who among us has never wondered if there might not really be a tempter sitting on our shoulders or dogging our steps? C.S. Lewis dispels all doubts. In The Screwtape Letters, one of his bestselling works, we are made privy to the instructional correspondence between a senior demon, Screwtape, and his wannabe diabolical nephew Wormwood. As mentor, Screwtape coaches Wormwood in the finer points, tempting his "patient" away from God. Each letter is a masterpiece of reverse theology, giving the reader an inside look at the thinking and means of temptation. Tempters, according to Lewis, have two motives: the first is fear of punishment, the second a hunger to consume or dominate other beings. On the other hand, the goal of the Creator is to woo us unto himself or to transform us through his love from "tools into servants and servants into sons." It is the dichotomy between being consumed and subsumed completely into another's identity or being liberated to be utterly ourselves that Lewis explores with his razor-sharp insight and wit. The most brilliant feature of The Screwtape Letters may be likening hell to a bureaucracy in which "everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment." We all understand bureaucracies, be it the Department of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, or one of our own making. So we each understand the temptations that slowly lure us into hell. If you've never read Lewis, The Screwtape Letters is a great place to start. And if you know Lewis, but haven't read this, you've missed one of his core writings. --Patricia Klein
One of my favourite books, and an Internet Gem.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A Small Victory in Illinois

I wrote some time ago that:
At some point, you have to realise that you're playing a game by someone else's rules, a game where things like compassion, rationality, even sanity have no place. A game where the rules can be changed by the enemy at whim, where there really are no rules, no consistency, just pure irrational spite.

Sometimes courts realise too. And lawyers. And when they're so obviously in the wrong, sometimes they surrender.

From a mailing list I'm on:
Hello everyone.

I wanted to share a development that has occurred in respect to those that are:

A) Born in the State of Illinois
B) Receive SRS by a physician that is not licensed in the United States.

Prior to some very recent changes in how the Department of Vital Statistics processes the applications for those that were seeking a new birth certificate from the state of Illinois, and had not received their SRS from a surgeon licensed in the USA. The state's response had always been to deny issuing a Birth Certificate with the individual's post-operative gender reflected.

In 2009, a lawsuit was filed that caused a review of the practices being applied in the review of the new birth certificate applications. Due to this lawsuit (and the facts brought forward by the ACLU) the state NOW allows applications to be accompanied by a certification from a physician that "is" licensed in the US and new birth certificates WILL be issues if the surgical guidelines of SRS are satisfied.

If you were born in the state of Illinois and have had your request denied in the past (due to your surgery being performed by a physician not licensed in the United States), the time has come to resubmit your application by using the new forms that are now available on-line through the department of vital statistics website.

I hope that this information is helpful to those that are in the above situation.
A win. But why did we have to fight this battle in the first place? Oh well, never mind, on to the next problem. Then the one after that. Then the one after that.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I am 16, going on 17.... except I'm 51

Going through adolescence in your 50's is something very few people enjoy. Rather more do it though. It's probably easier than doing it in your 30's... as Madison found out....
Men searching for a long-term transsexual partner soon discover that finding one can be paradoxically difficult, since Adult (i.e., fully transitioned) transwomen often appears as any other woman in society. The same cannot be said, however, of their Pubescent counterparts – those “newly born” transsexuals just beginning their lives as women.

Thanks to their high visibility, these “young” women have come to represent – perhaps unfairly – the Public Face of Transsexualism to most people in the mainstream.
Contrary to public perceptions, most Adult transwomen bear little resemblance to their former Pubescent selves. Having largely cured their dysphoria and settled into their new social roles, they no longer call much attention to themselves and, after awhile, simply vanish from view.
And some of us skip a few steps along the way. We're old enough to.
In the transsexual world, the youngest women are sometimes the most mature, the most beautiful are sometimes the least feminine, and the most successful are sometimes the most irresponsible. It’s an alien world in which gravity pulls upside down, and magnetic North – especially during Puberty – is a perpetually moving target. Indeed, non-transsexuals often have a hard time even imagining life on such a planet. Just consider:

Virtually everything a Pubescent transwoman now knows – every romantic “truth” she’d learned, every social convention she’d mastered, every relationship she’d forged prior to transitioning – now belongs to a dead man. No matter what her current cup size may be or where she learned to smile with such smoldering sophistication, that hot girl sitting at the bar may very well be, for all intents and purposes, a 16-year-old girl socially, psychologically, emotionally and hormonally. And the more attractive she is, the harder she’ll have to work to unlearn those early male lessons. And you thought traditional Puberty was tough.
"Smoldering sophistication"? I must have cut that class. And maybe never having been a girl, hot or otherwise, only a middle-aged woman means I've avoided a lot of issues.

I can't decide whether to be grateful or not.
Drunk on hormones and flattering sexual advances (I wish - ZEB)– and with and new opportunities, desires and freedoms lurking around every titillating corner – we transwomen make poor choices, humiliate ourselves, get into trouble, abuse whatever feminine powers we’ve acquired, and come dangerously close to wrecking our own lives – all while trying to manage our “adult” careers, financial responsibilities, physical transformation and the few relationships we haven’t screwed up already. It’s a pretty tall order, and precious few of us are up to the task. When you suddenly find yourself occupying both the body and the life of a thirtysomething-year-old woman, survival has as much to do with luck as anything else. I, for example, experimented with drugs, group sex, BDSM, exhibitionism and escorting, to name but a few of my own transgressions.
OK, maybe I am grateful. Or maybe not, because I've always been rather staid, stodgy, prim and proper. I was never that kind of girl, not even with all my inhibitions removed - as they were when someone spiked my drink at a party when I was in my 20's. (I've never been to one since - just a rather sophisticated cocktail party, once, after transition). Had I transitioned at age 27, rather than 47, I don't think I would have been much different. Not more so than many girls of 16 these days, anyway.
Despite the obvious differences, transsexual Puberty is nonetheless quite similar to traditional puberty as experienced by most teenage girls in Western society. All the usual suspects are present: high levels of estrogen (Oooh Yeah! - ZEB), a new body hell-bent on exploration (well... thinking about it anyway... ZEB), burgeoning physical beauty (*Sigh* Well, at least I no longer look male - ZEB) and feminine sexuality (NO comment! ZEB), desire for adventure and excitement, giddy innocence and, of course, a healthy disregard for anything remotely resembling responsibility (well, yes, to all three - ZEB). The greatest difference, as you may have guessed, is that transsexual girls are, for the most part, entirely free to do exactly as they please – financially, domestically, geographically and sexually. Unfortunately, what they “please” is not always in their best interest ... or their reputation’s.

Thankfully, this only lasts for a year or so, assuming we survive it. A few of us don’t for obvious reasons.
It's been 4 years since my transition. I guess I'm developmentally retarded. Either that, or it's the flickering flame that burns the longest... Also, I'm married, and while neither of us are lesbian, that rather puts a cramp in one's dating life (for both of us). I've already found the great love of my life, a long-term relationship with a guy is something I neither need nor want, while a short-term one would be too shallow. I'm also parenting my child, and attempting a PhD in whatever spare time I have left after that. A social life is something I may dream about, but have no time for.

Somehow though, I'm never bored. Fancy that?

Monday, 5 October 2009

The ANC Youth League (and others) Speak Out on Intersex

From the Star:
"What does the youth league know about hermaphrodites? The imperialists must not impose this on us if they have hermaphrodites where they come from. They must enjoy living with their hermaphrodites, because in South Africa there are no hermaphrodites."
- ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema

Of course we're much more intelligent, as is shown by The Story of 'R'. We don't close our eyes and pretend there is no evidence, we get rid of it. :
He was in his early twenties. Melbourne-born. A tiny baby with a micro-penis. An officially undersized willie that, unlike a fish, could not be thrown back. It is part of a medical mythology that is passed around the profession like an urban legend. “Boys with micro-penises can’t grow to be real men if their willies are too small to insert into a vagina,” runs one myth. Another is they’ll grow up thinking they are not ‘proper’ men. They might even think they’re female.

When babies are born with micro-penises physicians pinch the organ between their thumb and forefinger to ensure its stretched length is over three millimeters. If not, the baby’s testicles may be removed, a vagina fashioned from the baby’s colon and the boy raised as female. ‘Real men’ do not have micro-penises.

The practice of rearranging babies’ genitals and raising them as one or other sex is called ‘pediatric gender assignment.’ Its one of the medical devices used to conceal the existence of biological diversity in human sex development.

Doctors in Melbourne had attempted this with ‘R’. Had tried to trick him into thinking he was a girl. They’d failed. And that’s why ‘R’ was angry. Sometimes he vented by punching holes in walls and windows. Eventually his partner, fearing for herself, persuaded him to see a therapist.

On his second visit the therapist thought ‘R’ might like to discuss his gender identity issues. She wondered if he was having difficulty dealing with his lesbianism.

“I’m not a lesbian,” ‘R’ replied. “I’m a man! I don’t have any identity issues!”

“That’s what I mean,” the therapist answered. “You’ve got a vagina, you were raised as a girl, but you identify as a man.”

When ‘R’s therapist attempted to to turn his problems into gender issues she was following a script that is repeated every time an intersex baby is identified.
...transgenderism and psycho-feminist gender theory are not science – they are pseudo-scientific narratives. The most recent product of an ancient cultural bio-variant phobia, only lately cobbled together from John Money’s theories. To this day its primary function is the erasure of biological variation in sex formation.

All attempts to mislead ‘R’ into thinking he was a girl had failed. ‘R’ had not deciphered the continuous multiplicity of signs that pointed in the direction of his being a girl, including his possession of a vagina, to conclude he was female. The attempt to give him a disordered ‘gender identity’ had failed miserably.

In the view of his anger (to his) therapist ‘R’ couldn’t win. He was a lesbian. He had a disordered identity because it wasn’t the one gender theory had predetermined for him. The exchange made him even more angry. He stormed out and made his enraged way home. At his front door he eyed up the glass window pane for a moment. He screamed his outrage… and he punched.

‘R’ had his hand and forearm swathed in plaster. Two days earlier he’d tried to punch out the reinforced glass window in his front door. That one angry punch had broken most of the bones in his right hand.

But a rational person should understand his anger.

"My theory trumps your reality."

There's been too much of that. Ideology - be it political, religious, or philosophical - riding roughshod over Facts.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

An Expensive Trick

My Son's peculiar father did a really great trick when Andrew was just 3. He turned into a girl!

I've always done some simple prestidigitation to entertain him. He likes doing tricks too. But next time, I'll check that the trick doesn't involve money.....

Thursday, 1 October 2009

It is the RAF who now suffer the largest casualties in this area

As Captain B.J. Smethwick wrote:
As a naval officer I abhor the implication that the Royal Navy is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we now have the problem relatively under control, and that it is the RAF who now suffer the largest casualties in this area.
Perhaps only 1 in 60 to 1 in 20 in the Royal Navy are cannibals. 1.5% to 5%. Plus those Admirals, Captains and Commanders that cover for them. And the problem is a lot worse in the RAF.

Of course that is the comedy of the absurd.

This isn't though.

From the Grauniad:
The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was "busy cleaning its own house" and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other churches were as big, if not bigger.
The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
One in twenty. One in TWENTY??? That they admit to?

I knew there was a problem - who couldn't? But this figure stunned me.

From an earlier article in the Grauniad:
The Vatican instructed Catholic bishops around the world to cover up cases of sexual abuse or risk being thrown out of the Church.

The Observer has obtained a 40-year-old confidential document from the secret Vatican archive which lawyers are calling a 'blueprint for deception and concealment'. One British lawyer acting for Church child abuse victims has described it as 'explosive'.

The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of 'strictest' secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication.
The original Latin document Crimen Sollicitationis is available online as a PDF. It was originally sent out sub secretum to all bishops.

There are many translations on the web, some of them distressingly imperfect. I believe this apologia issued by Catholic canon lawyers is truthful - as far as it goes.
A 1962 Vatican document ordering secrecy in cases of sexual misconduct by priests is not, according to canon lawyers, a "smoking gun" providing evidence of a cover-up of sex abuse orchestrated by Rome.

Civil attorneys handling lawsuits against the Catholic church have pointed to the document as evidence of obstruction of justice.

For one thing, canon lawyers say, the document was so obscure that few bishops had ever heard of it. For another, they say, secrecy in canonical procedures should not be confused with refusal to cooperate with civil authorities. The 1962 document would not have tied the hands of a bishop, or anyone else, who wanted to report a crime by a priest to the police.

The 39-page document, titled in Latin Crimen Sollicitationis, was issued in March 1962 by the Holy Office (today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). It established a procedure for canonical cases in which priests were accused of abusing the confessional to sexually proposition penitents. Four concluding paragraphs extend the procedure to the crimen pessimum, or "worst crime," meaning homosexual acts contrary to a priest's celibate commitment. The document was not designed to address sexual abuse of minors, but would include many such violations.

Paragraph 11 of the document stipulates that such cases are covered by the "secret of the Holy Office," today known as pontifical secrecy, the strictest form of secrecy in church law. Excommunication is prescribed for anyone who violates this secrecy.

The document was itself to be kept secret. Instructions on Page One direct that it be stored in the secret archives of each diocese, and that it not be published or commented upon. Msgr. Thomas Green, canon law expert at The Catholic University of America, told NCR Aug. 4 that unlike most church legislation, Crimen Sollicitationis was never published in the official Vatican bulletin Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The document recently came to light because it was referenced in a footnote to a May 18, 2002, letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, to the bishops of the world regarding new procedures for sex abuse cases.
The intent appears to be to wash the Church's dirty laundry in private; to protect those found innocent as the result of diligent inquiry; to protect the privacy of the victims; and last but not least, to prevent damage to the Church as an institution from a "few bad apples".
Canon lawyers told NCR that secrecy in canonical cases serves three purposes. First, it is designed to allow witnesses and other parties to speak freely, knowing that their responses will be confidential. Second, it allows the accused party to protect his good name until guilt is established. Third, it allows victims to come forward without exposing themselves to publicity. The high degree of secrecy in Crimen Sollicitationis was also related to the fact that it dealt with the confessional.

Those motives for confidentiality, experts say, must be distinguished from a widespread "mentality" that sought to protect the church from scandal by not reporting sexual abuse by priests to the police. As a matter of canon law, the obligation of secrecy in canonical cases does not prohibit a bishop or other church officials from reporting crimes to the proper authorities.

Conflicts may arise, however, if civil authorities seek access to the secret acts of canonical procedures.

That Crimen Sollicitationis was not designed to "cover up" sex abuse, canonists say, is clear in paragraph 15, which obligates anyone with knowledge of a priest abusing the confessional for that purpose to come forward, under pain of excommunication for failing to do so. This penalty is stipulated, the document says, "lest [the offense] remain occult and unpunished and always with inestimable detriment to souls."
That may have been the intent. I think it genuinely was. The reality though was quite different.
Rev Thomas Doyle, a US Air Force chaplain in Germany and a specialist in Church law, has studied the document. He told The Observer: 'It is certainly an indication of the pathological obsession with secrecy in the Catholic Church, but in itself it is not a smoking gun.

'If, however, this document actually has been the foundation of a continuous policy to cover clergy crimes at all costs, then we have quite another issue. There are too many authenticated reports of victims having been seriously intimidated into silence by Church authorities to assert that such intimidation is the exception and not the norm.

'If this document has been used as a justification for this intimidation then we possibly have what some commentators have alleged, namely, a blueprint for a cover-up. This is obviously a big "if" which requires concrete proof.'
Concrete proof we have aplenty. This document has been (mis)interpreted by many Bishops to silence victims with the threat of Excommunication; to obstruct all investigations by secular authorities; to merely "move on" pedophiles to where they have new opportunities to rape children; and generally to cover-up, conceal, deny, obfuscate, and deny victims justice. All to protect the Church's good name.

And now the defence is that the "problem is far worse in the RAF". Returning to the original article:
He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.

He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual molestation of other children.

The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.

"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."

The statement concluded: "As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it."

The Holy See launched its counter–attack after an international representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Keith Porteous Wood, accused it of covering up child abuse and being in breach of several articles under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Porteous Wood said the Holy See had not contradicted any of his accusations. "The many thousands of victims of abuse deserve the international community to hold the Vatican to account, something it has been unwilling to do, so far. Both states and children's organisations must unite to pressurise the Vatican to open its files, change its procedures worldwide, and report suspected abusers to civil authorities."
It's about homosexuality you see. And sex with an 11 year old boy isn't really pedophilia. And, um, facts are stubborn things. And such conduct was looked at... differently... from the way it is today.
Diocesan attorney Thomas McCormick told the jury that church officials followed the advise of doctors and psychologists when they hired and then retained Paquette despite knowledge he had a history of sexually abused altar boys.

McCormick said the diocese does not deny that Paquette molested the former altar boy whose case against the diocese is the fifth to go to trial, or that then-Bishop John Marshall made a mistake in hiring Paquette.

But McCormick said the decision to employ Paquette was made during a time 35 years ago when conduct like Paquette's was looked at differently than today.

"Facts are stubborn things," McCormick told the jury.

The trial is the fifth priest molestation case to go before the jury in three years at the Burlington court.
With the best will in the world, giving the benefit of the doubt, being charitable to the greatest extent... forgiveness requires acknowledgement of the sin, and true repentance, freely and gladly given. The Church of all organisations should be aware of that.

I see no evidence of repentance, they're just sorry they got caught before they could deal with it internally - by sweeping it under the carpet, as they'd always done before. When such conduct was looked at quite differently from the way it is today.