Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Two More Pieces of the Puzzle

Finally, someone's doing some research on FtoMs.

White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. - Rametti et al, J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Jun 8.
Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Some gray and white matter regions of the brain are sexually dimorphic. The best MRI technique for identifying subtle differences in white matter is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether white matter patterns in female to male (FtM) transsexuals before commencing cross-sex hormone treatment are more similar to that of their biological sex or to that of their gender identity.
METHOD: DTI was performed in 18 FtM transsexuals and 24 male and 19 female heterosexual controls scanned with a 3 T Trio Tim Magneton. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was performed on white matter fibers of the whole brain, which was spatially analyzed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics.
RESULTS: In controls, males have significantly higher FA values than females in the medial and posterior parts of the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), the forceps minor, and the corticospinal tract. Compared to control females, FtM showed higher FA values in posterior part of the right SLF, the forceps minor and corticospinal tract. Compared to control males, FtM showed only lower FA values in the corticospinal tract.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the white matter microstructure pattern in untreated FtM transsexuals is closer to the pattern of subjects who share their gender identity (males) than those who share their biological sex (females). Our results provide evidence for an inherent difference in the brain structure of FtM transsexuals.
n=18 is still too small a sample size to be entirely certain - if the experiment is considered in isolation. But now we have dozens of experiments on humans, hundreds on animals, an aggregate human test sample size in the thousands, and all showing the same pattern.

Regional cerebral blood flow changes in female to male gender identity disorder. - Tanaka et al, Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2010 Apr 1;64(2):157-61.
Abstract:
AIMS: Despite a range of research on gender identity disorder (GID), at present there is no scientific consensus on whether the etiology of GID is mental or physical. In particular recent advances in the technology of neuroimaging research have led to an increased understanding of the biological basis of various mental disorders. GID also should be evaluated from this perspective. The aim of the present study was therefore to do the first trial to examine the regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in GID.
METHODS: Persons considered biologically male fulfilling the GID criteria are termed male to female (MTF) and, conversely, persons considered biological female are termed female to male (FTM). We compared 11 FTM subjects and nine age- and handedness-matched female control subjects. None of the subjects was regularly taking medication and none had any kind of physical or psychiatric comorbidity. To evaluate rCBF in GID subjects and control subjects, statistical parametric mapping analysis of (99m)Tc-ethyl-cysteinate dimer single-photon emission computed tomography was used.
RESULTS: GID subjects had a significant decrease in rCBF in the left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and a significant increase in the right insula compared to control subjects.
CONCLUSIONS: The ACC and insula are regions that have been noted as being related to human sexual behavior and consciousness. From these findings, useful insights into the biological basis of GID were suggested.
Again, n=9 does not give me warm fuzzies. Moreover, the controls here were flawed, or rather, incomplete. A comparison was made with women, but not with other men. A better experiment would replicate existing work showing the differences between cis-sexual men and cis-sexual women, and then look at trans-sexual men before and after hormonal treatment. That way we could say something rather more precise than "trans men don't have the neurology of cis women".

But it's a start.

Other experiments have shown that in certain, specific parts of the brain, to do with emotional response, sense of smell and some other areas, that trans women are more similar to cis women than cis men. Yet others have shown that in a very few other parts, the opposite is the case. And yet others have shown that trans women tend to have parts of their neurology that correspond with neither a male nor female stereotype, nor anything between. They're just plain unusual.

So "male brain in an otherwise female body" - or the reverse - is true. True-ish, anyway. It's more complicated than that. But close enough.

And other experiments still have shown that those sexually attracted to men have specific parts of the brain tending towards one pattern, those sexually attracted to women tending towards another pattern. Regardless of whether they're straight women / gay men, or straight men / lesbian women. And regardless of whether they're cis or trans. A different, but nearby, part of the brain is involved there.

From my own perspective, I can make certain predictions of what my own brain must look like - if our theories are correct. Feminine, sometimes extremely so, in some areas. Masculine in a few. Just plain Weird in one or two.

To anyone who knows me, that last part at least would be no surprise.

I'd love to get myself tested. While I think it would be likely that my predictions would be born out, so it's just another chunk of confirmatory evidence, one more humdrum data point - if we're lucky, I'm wrong, and then we'd really learn something new. Unlikely though, from my research it appears I'm boringly vanilla normal. For a woman born looking male, who changed spontaneously..... (chuckle).

While, on the whole, I'd really rather be 100% female neurologically... the facts say otherwise. My wishes are immaterial, facts are, or are not.

But then, many standard factory model women, cis-sexual, have many of the same mildly cross-sexed neural circuits. I'm in good company. We should always treat people on their individual merits, and not sexually profile them. That's prejudice.

Curtsy to M.Italiano for bringing the Tanaka paper to my attention, while I was still looking at the one by Rametti

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Missing the Point

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. From the ACL, the Australian Christian Lobby, a comment:
Bob Whidon says:
June 25, 2010 at 6:04 am

It is almost time for work, and yet I have spent so much of the time I normally spend in silent prayer totally engrossed in the stories and comments on this blog.

I must prepare myself for the day, but I must also share this last piece of my mind.

Many more posts have appeared here, and I note with some astonishment that it is suggested that there is a homosexual in the Australian Parliament.

I have noted with satisfaction how these deviants have been recently driven from their positions of power in state government.
He then goes on to say:
In my youth we had another name for these perverts, and although I don’t go in for bashings any more, I am proud to say that I have taught my sons to treat them with the disrespect that they deserve.

Yours in Christ
Bob
Yours in Christ... oh, you poor, poor man.

Matthew 23 (KJV)
23 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.


*SIGH*

The thing is - I know some genuine Christians. The ones who don't just preach, they live, the principles of Love God; Be Kind. Don't tar them all with the same brush, or you'll be no different from the ACL.

Monday, 28 June 2010

A Thought for those feeling defeated

Some advice to those helping others who feel like giving up:
I'd get them to go look at the stars. To impress upon them that stars died in cataclysms unimaginable to produce every atom of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in their bodies. That fusion furnaces ripped apart atoms, even subatomic particles, so that individual photons could travel hundreds, even millions of light years through the vast darkness of the Cosmos, just so they could see them, here, now, this second. To impress upon them that life, any life, any intelligence, is so rare and precious, and above all so fleeting, that every scintilla is beyond price.

Hormone Therapy for Transition

HORMONE THERAPY IN TRANSSEXUAL PATIENTS - If your Endo is clueless, this will help. That is, if you want to transition.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Misogyny Redux

Or - what happens when a Patriarchal society become Pathological.
HTTAF6 - Human Terrain Team AF-6's report on Pushtun Sexuality in Afghanistan.
The Human Terrain Team AF-6, assigned to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Battalion and co-located with British forces in Lashkar Gah, has been requested by these forces to provide insight on Pashtun cultural traditions regarding male sexuality for reasons of enhanced baseline cultural understanding for improved interaction as well as any IO applicability.
...
Key Observations
  • A culturally-contrived homosexuality (significantly not termed as such by its practitioners) appears to affect a far greater population base then some researchers would argue is attributable to natural inclination.
  • Some of its root causes lie in the severe segregation of women, the prohibitive cost of marriage within Pashtun tribal codes, and the depressed economic situation into which young Pashtun men are placed.
  • Other root causes include a long-standing cultural tradition in which boys are appreciated for physical beauty and apprenticed to older men for their sexual initiation.[2] The fallout of this pattern of behavior over generations has a profound impact on Pashtun society and culture.
  • Homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam, but cultural interpretations of Islamic teaching prevalent in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan tacitly condone it in comparison to heterosexual relationships in several contexts.
  • Pashtun men are freer with companionship, affection, emotional and artistic expression, and the trust bred of familiarity with other men. They often lack the experience of these aspects of life with women.
  • This usurping of the female role may contribute to the alienation of women over generations, and their eventual relegation to extreme segregation and abuse.

It seems the cycle begins in isolation from the experience of women's companionship and the replacement of such companionship with men. Significantly, in the case of Taliban madrasas, many boys spend their formative years without even the influence of motherhood in their lives.[25] Women are foreign, and categorized by religious teachers as, at best, unclean or undesirable.[26] It is then probable that the male companionship that a boy has known takes a sinister turn, in the form of the expression of pedophilia from the men that surround him. Such abuse would most likely result in a sense of outrage or anger, but anger that can not possibly be directed at the only source of companionship and emotional support a boy knows, and on which he remains dependent. This anger may very well be then directed at the foreign object—women—resulting in the misogyny typical of Pashtun Islamism. Men and boys therefore remain the object of affection and security for these boys as they grow into men themselves, and the cycle is repeated.

[2] While researchers may argue whether this can rightly be termed abusive when seen through a lens from within the culture, it is not arguable that it involves a great imbalance of power and/or authority to the disadvantage of the boy involved. (For information regarding the sexual exploitation of boys as part of Taliban and private militia indoctrination of pre-teen fighters, see the New York Times article by Craig Smith regarding “Warlords and Pedophilia” and the Reuters article “Afghan Boy Dancers Sexually Abused by Former Warlords”—both referenced in “Further Reading.”)

[25] This is often due to orphanhood or family separation because of refugee circumstances.

[26] At worst, women are categorized by such leaders as associated with evil—not unlike many Christian teachings over the years, emphasizing Eve's role in man's downfall.
While attempting to be objective, this can be very difficult for some of the women in the field. Not because of the way they are treated, but because of the way they see the children being perverted.
The noise of the children caught the attention of our American interpreter, who returned and scolded them for their behavior. He attempted to shame them by asking “is this the way you would behave at home?” The oldest boy proudly answered that it was, indicating that his mother and sisters were treated with the same violence and disdain. While the encounter with the father hurt my wrist, the encounter with his sons broke my heart -- From HTT Personal Field Notes dated 15 May 2009.
You see - it's not Gay Sex that's forbidden - that's allowed, as long as it's the rape of children. It's Gay Love that is anathema.

Commander Suzdal, you're needed.

Friday, 25 June 2010

What's in a Name?

When it comes to naval vessels - quite a lot.

Conventionally, a cruiser is the largest of warships built in quantity - other than aircraft carriers. Next in size is the destroyer, and smaller still, the frigate.

In WW II, a heavy cruiser might be 12,000 tons, a light cruiser 6,000, a destroyer 3,000, and a frigate 1,500. The cruiser was the smallest ship capable of independent operations, "cruising" the seas, rather than invariably operating as part of a larger squadron.

In the post-war world, the US Navy required some escort ships the size of cruisers. But what to call them? Cruisers - after their size - or destroyers - after their role.

But budgets were tight, and it was easier to get these cruiser-sized ships approved if they called them "Frigates". Their designation as DLG - Guided Missile equipped Destroyer Leaders (Large Destroyers) hinted at the contradiction though.

Here's a picture of the "Frigate" DLG-23, the USS Halsey



In 1975, it was more politically convenient to call them what they were, so DLG-23 became CG-23, a guided missile cruiser.

In the UK, there was a similar problem. Money could be found for destroyers - but not cruisers. So they built destroyers. Large destroyers. 10,000 ton destroyers, the County class.

Here's the "Destroyer" D19, HMS Glamorgan



What worked once worked again. A cash-strapped treasury would never finance an aircraft carrier. But a "through-deck cruiser" (whatever that was), yes, they could do that.

Of course, they used the same "R" designation for UK Aircraft Carriers, rather than the "C" for cruisers... but the bean-counters didn't notice that.

Here's the "cruiser" R07 Ark Royal



The Montrieux Convention dictates that major warships - aircraft carriers and battleships - aren't allowed to traverse the Bosphorus without prior notification to Turkey.

So... here's a tyazholyy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAKR or TAVKR) - “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” of the Russian Navy. A Cruiser, not a Carrier.



I think though that the Japanese have taken things to the furthest step yet. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force is violently allergic to "Aircraft Carriers". Too many associations with P.... H.... on December 7th.

They're not real keen on Cruisers for that matter, as they're for projecting power, something that is too reminiscent of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the unfortunate occurrences between 1935 and 1945. Events not necessarily to Japan's advantage.

So behold - their new 24,000 ton "Helicopter Carrying Destroyer". Definitely not a carrier, oh no.




For reference:

The Carrier Garibaldi



The Cruiser USS Ticonderoga



The Destroyer HMS Edinburgh



The Frigate Bremen



So when it comes to ship type designations... if it swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, has plumage like a duck - it's probably a duck. But in the UK, it's a sparrow, and in Japan, a hummingbird. Officially. A Watergoing hummingbird. A Large Watergoing Hummingbird.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Chimps, Too, Wage War and Annex Rival Territory

From the New York Times.
Most days the male chimps behave a lot like frat boys, making a lot of noise or beating each other up. But once every 10 to 14 days, they do something more adult and cooperative: they wage war.

A band of males, up to 20 or so, will assemble in single file and move to the edge of their territory. They fall into unusual silence as they penetrate deep into the area controlled by the neighboring group. They tensely scan the treetops and startle at every noise. “It’s quite clear that they are looking for individuals of the other community,” Dr. Mitani says.

When the enemy is encountered, the patrol’s reaction depends on its assessment of the opposing force. If they seem to be outnumbered, members of the patrol will break file and bolt back to home territory. But if a single chimp has wandered into their path, they will attack. Enemy males will be held down, then bitten and battered to death. Females are usually let go, but their babies will be eaten.
There's nothing in this article that didn't happen fifty years ago - and doesn't still happen to some extent - in the New Guinea Highlands - though the kids are usually just slain, not eaten, and the women raped.

We share 98% of our DNA - but then, we share 50% with flatworms. So that 2% is a rather greater difference than it appears.

Nonetheless.. these are people. Not human. Subhuman. But people nonetheless, an intelligent species. And uncomfortably like us. When civilised, quite good people. But when in a situation of barbarity, ruthless, savage and cruel. And I'm not saying that those members of H.Sapiens in New Guinea are subhuman; I'm saying that Chimps, if removed from a non-technological setting, would be people too.

To see how we - both the New Guinea Highlanders and myself - are similar in many ways to Pan Troglodites, just watch this video, from 48 years ago. Note the use of technology, the watchtowers. These people are as bright as I am, possibly more so.



Things are changing though. Technology is affecting the situation, and a situation that has lasted for tens of thousands of years is now untenable. Weapons exist now that make the old methods of warfare obsolete. Weapons too terrible to use.



I think it's only a matter of time before our cousins get taught to use AK-47s. They're ignorant - but intelligent enough. And then that will be the end of them, as they may be stronger in hand-to-hand combat, but we're better at using technology. And just as ruthless in the face of a threat.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Brains, Food, Smell, and Sex

James V. Kohl: The Mind's Eyes: Human Pheromones, Neuroscience, and Male Sexual Preferences
The across-species genetic conservation of intercellular and extracellular chemical communication enables unicellular and multicellular organisms to functionally distinguish between self and non-self. Non-self olfactory/pheromonal input from the social environment elicits a vertebrate neuroendocrine response. The organization and activation of this neuroendocrine response modulates the concurrent maturation of the mammalian neuroendocrine system, the reproductive system, and the central nervous system during the development of sexual preferences that may be expressed in sexual behavior. Psychophysiological mechanisms for the development of these sexual preferences include focus on unconscious affects that are detailed in reciprocal cause and effect relationships. Olfactory/pheromonal conditioning elicits neuroendocrine effects accompanied by unconscious affects on the development of sexual preferences. Integrating these unconscious affects extends to humans a developmental model of behavior that includes the development of male sexual preferences for other males
How much of sexual orientation - and crystallisation of gender identity - is tied up with, of all things, our sense of smell? How does our olefactory environment affect the plastic regions of the brain?

OK, there's some things about this very dense and difficult to read paper that make it less useful than it could be. It's all about sex. It's all about males. It's all about gay males. The female of the species is not considered, neither are issues of sex identity. There's also this:
Rarely do sex researchers address the ongoing philosophical debate between canonical neo-Darwinism and Biblical creation. Perhaps this is because any debate between scientific theory and religion arises from distinctly different domains of cognitive thought. Does the acceptance of Darwin’s theory represent the glorification of Science pitted against religion, or is it a means by which Science and religion might be integrated? Integration of Science and religion might be achieved by recognizing that the key components of this olfactory/pheromonal model appear to be as irreducibly complex as the basic tenets of evolution and the basic tenets of religion.
Um. If you say so.

Never mind, worth adding to the references, because sense of smell is something intimately connected to the parts of the lymbic nucleus that deal with sex identity (yes, gender identity is the usual term, mine's more accurate though). And we know it's affected by hormone levels, and transsexuals show cross-sexed neuroanatomy here. So a part of the puzzle.

See also Will gender exist 100 years from now, or does it already not exist?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Money Quote

From Declaring With Clarity, When Gender Is Ambiguous - New York Times:
Q. Because of all this new research, is the accepted standard of care of intersex children changing?

A. There's no one standard now. Five years ago, a genetic male child born without a penis or a severely inadequate one almost universally would have been assigned female at birth. Today, about two-thirds of the pediatric urologists say they wouldn't go that route, which means that one-third still might. That says that we're not sure of the right way, yet.
*SIGH* And someone has to pick up the pieces. We're making progress, but 2/3 is not 3/3, and lives continue to blighted just so others can feel comfortable.

Here's the key:
Q. What conclusions do you draw from your study?

A. That sexual identity is individual, unique and intuitive and that the only person who really knows what it is is the person themselves. If we as physicians or scientists want to know about a person's sexual identity, we have to ask them.
Exactly.

Monday, 21 June 2010

One of the Great Moody Blues Classics


I'm just a wandering on the face of this earth
Meeting so many people
Who are trying to be free
And while I'm traveling I hear so many words

Language barriers broken
Now we've found the key
And if you want the wind of change
To blow about you
And you're the only other person to know, don't tell me
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band.

He may be - but I'm a Blogger, and I want to know.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

A Little Experiment

From Transgender Need Not Apply: A Report on Gender Identity Job Discrimination
We sent out carefully matched pairs of job applicants, one transgender and one not, to apply for the same jobs. Each pair was equivalent in age and ethnicity and equipped with fictionalized resumes that were evenly matched. Both testing pairs underwent extensive training on how to adopt similar interview styles and how to document their job-seeking interactions objectively. Transgender testers were instructed to explicitly inform store managers and interviewers of their transgender status whenever feasible.

Our research revealed an astonishingly high degree of employment discrimination against our transgender job applicants.
  • We found a 42% net rate of discrimination against transgender job seekers. In eleven out of the 24 employers tested, the transgender job applicant received no offer, but
    the control group tester did. Only in one instance did a transgender tester receive a job offer in our first round.
In 2009, we also conducted 82 surveys with transgender and gender non-conforming individuals about their experiences in the job market, not limited to the retail sector. These surveys corroborated the pattern of discrimination documented by the matched pair testing.
  • Of the 82 workers surveyed, 59% percent of transgender workers reported experiencing job discrimination.
  • 49% had never been offered a job living openly as a transgender person.
Although New York City Human Rights Law explicitly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity, discriminatory practices are still widespread.
No comment necessary - other than in places without legal protections, the situation is worse. That's all but 12 states in the USA. The effort to pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act is in the hope that the situation elsewhere will be so only 50% never, ever receive a job offer, rather than more than that.

And people wonder why so many hide their unusual medical history...

Friday, 18 June 2010

He Shoots... He Scores!



Object of the game: to chase the ball into the goal - or if it won't co-operate, have it as a snack. The Orca equivalent of Basketball. Or possibly the reputed original form of Buzkashi, which used a live animal to make it harder.

Three cheers for the ball - and another for the sportsmanship shown by the players.

Orcas are about as intelligent as the brighter dogs - but their intellect is alien. Not so alien that humans can't understand their games though. If we meet another technological species, they are likely to be even more strange. But we may have things in common, nonetheless.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Classes of Human

Here's one metric, in use by at least one Catholic Homeless Youth Shelter.

First Class : Straight, cis-sexual. Gets to sleep in a bed, and can be open about their sexuality.

Second Class : Gay, cis-sexual. Gets to sleep in a bed, but must be closeted.

Third Class : Trans-sexual. Must sleep on the floor. Not permitted to use the usual shower facilities.

Fourth Class : Intersexed. Expelled. There's no room at the Inn.

I was told when I arrived that I could only be there if I stayed with the girls, because I was legally female. I agreed because I had no other option, it was there or the street.

They roomed me with a female who said she felt uncomfortable being in the same room as me... the shelter's response was to pull me out of the room and insist that I sleep on the floor of the girls wing in front of the night staff.

I was constantly harassed by others in the shelter as well as the staff themselves. I was discovered to be physically intersexed by another shelter recipient who walked into the individual shower section I was in with the intent to start a fight.

When I was later told that even though I agreed to be there as a female that I could not use the female restrooms or showers, I was instructed to use a single person bathroom and shower on the first floor of the building. I was happy about that because I was obviously not comfortable using the multi-person restrooms and showers anyway.

When the girl who discovered I was intersexed told the staff, they made me get a "physical" at the little medical place attached next door. When it was confirmed I was indeed intersexed, I was told I had to leave the shelter because they had no place for me.

I was kicked out 2 days before my 16th birthday.
They've lost their way.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Girl Speaks Out - And is Listened To

The Australian Family Court has one of the more enlightened and humane attitudes towards the issues of Intersex and Transsexuality in the world. It's not perfect - but it's vastly better than most places.

This is exemplified by the AFC actually listening to a child with 5ARD syndrome, and asking them what they want.
It hurts sometimes, knowing I have this condition. Sometimes I blame myself, because I feel like I am not normal. Sometimes I get angry, even though I know why and how it happened. I get a bit frustrated, because my mum always blames herself, but I keep telling her it’s not her fault. It’s just something that happened. The doctors have told me that if the gonads would remove, it would completely stop any further male development.
This is what I want.
...
When I was told what the lumps were, and that they were gonads, the first thing I thought of was that they could get rid of them. I want the gonads removed now, rather than wait until I am 18, as I want to start living my life now. I feel that once the gonads are removed, then I can get on with my life and accept my condition. I want to put the issue of the removal of the gonads behind me, and I can only do this if the gonads are removed.

I know that after the gonads are removed, I might have to have more surgery for my vagina. Dr [X] has told me that he does not want to go to more surgery, because it might wreck sensation. He said that I would only have surgery if all else fails. If I needed surgery to look more like a normal female, I would want to have it. I know I can never have babies, but I want to be as much like a normal woman as possible. I don’t know how I would feel if I could not have the gonads removed now. I do not want to think about them not being removed. I suppose I would just wait until I was 18, and then I would have them removed as soon as I could.
Sally's testimony, in RE: SALLY (SPECIAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE) [2010] FamCA 237

5ARD and 17BHDD syndromes often result in an apparent natural sex change. Well, the body changes, the brain does not. Gender Identity is unaffected. So the condition may cure Transsexuality when the patient has a male gender identity, or induce it when they have a female gender identity, as here.

And for some, they go with the flow, as I wrote about in my post, BiGender and The Brain. The degree of masculinisation also varies, from extreme to miniscule. Intervention without consent can be a disaster, as may lack of intervention when it's desired.

This is what it means though, in human, personal terms in one common case. A girl who, because of a relatively minor genetic whoopsie, was condemned to have her body masculinise. That is not a good situation to be in, to put it mildly. I know, from personal experience, but as I was a Tomboy with probably a less feminised brain than she has, it likely wasn't as bad for me. There are degrees, biology is fuzzy and messy.

1. Sally was born into a loving family in 1995. She had no health difficulties at birth and, to all intents and purposes, appeared to be a happy and healthy baby girl.

2. That remained the case until she was about 11. At that time, her mother deposes
… she told me that she’d found two lumps; one in the right side of her abdomen, and the other in her left labia. She asked me if they were “nuts” meaning testes. I immediately said no, but due to [Sally’s] concerns, I arranged for her to see our local GP. The GP examined [Sally], and said that the lumps were a normal part of the puberty process. I thought nothing of it after that.
3. Sally’s mother goes on to depose,
When she was in grade 7, she asked me why she had not started her periods, as most of her friends at school had started to get periods. I told her that girls start to have periods [at] different times, and not to be too concerned about it. [Sally’s] breast development appeared to be normal.
[Sally] had also raised the concerns regarding a deepening of her voice.
The deepening of [Sally’s] voice had happened gradually. I had never really given it any thought; as far as I was concerned, it was [Sally].
4. In early 2009, behavioural issues manifested themselves at school. Ultimately, Sally consulted a paediatrician. Initial tests revealed that Sally had XY genotype, did not have a uterus, and had gonads present in her pelvis. That initial investigation led to further specialist medical consultations, to which further reference will shortly be made.

5. Ultimately, specialist medical and psychiatric opinion aligns in recommending a surgical procedure which 141/2 year old Sally also seeks, and in which she is supported by each of her parents. That procedure is the performance of invasive and irreversible surgery; a gonadectomy, which would see removal of her gonads, and, thus, all vestiges of her, as it were, “maleness.”

6. Orders are applied for by the Hospital who would have responsibility for those doctors who would perform the mooted operation. That hospital applies for orders, relevantly, that the proposed surgery, involving the bilateral removal of her gonads, be authorised by her parents and that this authorisation operate as all such authority as is needed at law, by which to perform that operation.
The Order was approved. So what does it take to avoid putting a teenage girl through such a nightmare?
  • Loving Parents.
  • A Humane Legal System.
  • An Absence of Superstition, and a Knowledge of Biology.
Just little things really. I can't do anything about the first - but the rest, maybe I can. And who knows, maybe a parent with a child with 5ARD or 17BHDD will read this, and see what a loving parent should do under these circumstances. Ask their child what they want. That's all.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Thesis Proven

I remarked in a previous post about the attitude of Catholicism towards the Intersexed. And the hitherto relatively rational and humane Catholic Answers Forum - http://forums.catholic.com/

My Thesis was that the Catholic Church is now starting to actively persecute the Intersexed. The reasoning behind it appears to be as follows:
There are many, many gay priests. Most are celibate, but celibate or not, there are many who are attracted to the same sex. Now, in order not to feel unbearably guilty about that, and as they're sexually frustrated, they can't help but think about it a lot, it's important that they be given some form of excuse. That there's nothing wrong per se with same-sex attraction, it's only same-sex behaviour that's wrong.

But how to casuistically find or manufacture a reason why it's not the attraction that's wrong, just the behaviour? That it is, in the words of the magisterium, "intrinsically disordered"? Tricky, that. But it's vital to do so, lest a large proportion of the priesthood - possibly even a majority - feel tortured by feelings they can't control. They can control their actions (well, most can) but not their attractions.

What's needed is something plausible - and of course Natural Law, which you can state without proof supports whatever claim you care to make, as long as it's not completely and obviously ridiculous.

Hence the notion that there is an indivisible and immutable boundary between Male and Female, that Nature supports this, and that to violate or blur this boundary is a threat to all Creation. That this is not an out-dated Metaphysics, but something very real and relevant today. Such a blurring, so contrary to nature, is a Threat to Mankind, and the Human Ecology. And same-sex sexual behaviour (but not attraction) blurs this line, so must be anathematised. There, simple, problem solved. And it all ties in nicely with the Theology of the Body too, a dogma very popular with the more conservative elements of the Church who wish to roll back Vatican II.

Except... there are side-effects. Unintended consequences. Those people who are born with bodies neither stereotypically male not stereotypically female, regardless of sexual behaviour, also blur this line. Blur? Some of us shatter it!

So we are a threat to Creation too. A threat to all Mankind. Because of what we were born as. Constantine the Great, venerated as a saint in the Eastern Rite, put intersexed infants in caskets and threw them into the river as a kind of ecological recycling program, for this very reason.

That means our existence must be denied, or at least suppressed. We're inconvenient facts, that must be kept out of the eye of the Faithful, lest they ask unanswerable questions.

Persecuting Gays is unjust - unless for a really good reason, such as preventing the "intrinsic disorder" of same-sex marriage. But persecuting us is a different matter, that's just by definition. One could even call it a matter of self-defence.
I'd welcome any evidence from anyone in the Catholic Hierarchy - as opposed to statements unsupported by concrete proof, and contrary to the facts - that I'm wrong here.

See what happened on the Forum:
---------------------------
Dear Zoe Brain,

You have received a warning at Catholic Answers Forums.

Reason:
-------
Contempt for Catholicism

Contempt for Catholicism
-------

Original Post:
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=6727529
From the Jakarta Post

The Indonesian Bishops' Council (KWI) has declared the controversial marriage of transgender Alterina Hofan illegal, kompas.com reported on Monday.

KWI secretary Benny Susetyo said the Catholic Church could not accept the marriage and suggested that Alterina should seek medication rather than changing her sex status.
Mr Hofman has 47XXY chromosomes, rather than the usual 46XX ones of females, and 46XY ones of males.

Most people with 47XXY chromosomes look male. Quite a few can father children. A few look female, and some of those have given birth.

Alterina has the rare Klinefelter’s syndrome which gives him an extra X chromosome, making him look more effeminate. After years of operations, he documented himself as a man and even married Jane Hadipoespito.

Benny said the health problem could not justify the change in sex status. “Her DNA and genetics prove she is female, therefore she can be medically cured,” the priest said.
Warnings serve as a reminder to you of the forum's rules, which you are expected to understand and follow.

All the best,
Catholic Answers Forums
--------------------------
That's all. Those words were deemed "contempt of Catholicism". Probably because the moderator, Eric Hilbert, is as biologically clueless as the Indonesian Bishops. Then, there was this:
Your account has been locked for the following reason:
Contempt for Catholicism, refuses moderator direction.
I wonder what "direction" was supposed to have been given though? Never mind.

While suspended - and thus unable to do anything against the site's rules, I finally got this little message.
Your account has been locked for the following reason:
No reason was specified.

This change will be lifted: Never
"Banned" is also now the status of every Intersexed person on the forum, and all those who posted scientific data in support, as expected if I were correct.

Thesis proven, I'd say. In which case, I have no cause for complaint, do I?

They'll get it right in the end, as they did with heliocentricism. They usually do. It might take a while though, and they do tend to end up with egg on their faces.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon - 1976



I was 18 at the time.... still trying to convince myself I'd be happy as a guy, but mostly too engrossed in my first year of University. Two hours travel in, well over that to get home. Those lab sessions ending at 6pm were murder, but the 9am chemistry lectures were worse. The buses cost a lot too, and I had $76.92 a month to live on.

In some ways, I think the difficulties of my life kept me from thinking about the Big Problem, so it didn't bother me.

One thing that stuck in my mind though. This particular performance, a Musicgasm that I think will be famed even in centuries to come. I'm lucky to have born witness to it - though only via video.

I so wanted to look like her, you know? But I knew I wouldn't even at age 10. "Elphin" I'm not.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Tae

From a friend's blog:
I was going to write a different post. It was a bit more cheerful. But the cheer has left.

In the process of writing it, I learned that one of my T-Daughters has passed away.

She was beaten and dumped in an alley and left for dead. To many, she was just another Native gal.

She was found and taken to a hospital, and despite some strong efforts, she’s passed away.

May she have the peace she needed.

We met at TIH. She’d come in from the street, skinny and bedraggled and yet there was a spirit in her that I envied. The moment we saw each other we formed a bond that was never broken. She was the first gal to call me mom, my first t-daughter. We helped each other, even as she fought some personal demons that I knew would lead to this, and I did my best, and my best was never good enough.

Let your God’s love embrace you, little Tae. You deserve it.

Rest, child. Rest.
No rest for us though, is there Dyss? Not while this happens. We grieve, we mourn, and then amidst tears of rage and sorrow, renew our vows never to cease, never to surrender, never to let our opponents rest a second while they allow or encourage this to happen.
And to give what help we can, especially to the young ones.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Catholicism vs The Intersexed

And I'm very sorry to say that it looks as if it's come to that. On one side, objective facts, observations, rationality. On the other, ignorance, superstition, dogma and inconsistency.

From the Jakarta Post:

Church says Alterina’s marriage illegal
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 06/07/2010 9:46 AM | Jakarta

The Indonesian Bishops' Council (KWI) has declared the controversial marriage of transgender Alterina Hofan illegal, kompas.com reported on Monday.

KWI secretary Benny Susetyo said the Catholic Church could not accept the marriage and suggested that Alterina should seek medication rather than changing her sex status.

“The Catholic Church bans marriage between people of the same sex,” Benny said, adding that the KWI deemed Alterina had defied her nature.

Alterina has the rare Klinefelter’s syndrome which gives him an extra X chromosome, making him look more effeminate. After years of operations, he documented himself as a man and even married Jane Hadipoespito.

Benny said the health problem could not justify the change in sex status. “Her DNA and genetics prove she is female, therefore she can be medically cured,” the priest said.

He suggested that the state should regulate the issue of same-sex marriage as it could create more social problems in the future.

Jane’s parents denounced the marriage, filing a lawsuit against Alterina for fraud because he had previously declared he was a woman on his identity card. Alterina is facing a seven-year imprisonment for the alleged fraud.
The Catholic Church has pronounced him Guilty: because he has an extra X chromosome.

My reply:
I'm starting to get a little tired of the superstitious nonsense - sorry, there's no other phrase that fits - emanating from the Catholic church on the issue of Intersex conditions.

In some places, anyone with 47XXY chromosomes is considered by the Church to be male, regardless of the biological facts. Now in Indonesia, they're considered female, again regardless of the biological facts.

Most people with 47XXY chromosomes look male. Some can father children, though that often takes technical help.

A few, a very few, look female. Some have given birth.

I've seen the most monumental claptrap written by Theologians on the subject, very much the equivalent of arguing that the Earth is flat, that it must be so according to Natural Law.

His Holiness the Pope recently made not one, but two addresses, one to the Curia, another to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps, denouncing Intersexed people as "threats to the human ecology" - Vermin by any other name - and calling proposed laws to grant them basic human rights as an "attack". Because their existence contradicts Church metaphysical dogma.

Recently, the American Catholic Bishops opposed such laws in the US, not on any religious or moral grounds, but because they would violate "privacy" and "freedom of association" - the very same words used to justify segregation, apartheid, and treating people without white skin as sub-human.

I fear the Catholic Church is setting itself up for another embarrassing clash with Science, one even worse than the Galileo affair.

This wouldn't be so bad if it was just some obscure theological and academic debate. But they're supporting the persecution of a group that already has quite enough to deal with from their congenital medical issues.
For His Holiness's words on Intersex issues, and those of the American Catholic Bishops, see this previous post.

I wrote considerably more on the issue on the Catholic Answers Forum Catholic News section. On a thread that has since been ... vaporised.

And on another thread, I've been accused of Heresy for saying that Intersex conditions exist.
First . . . within Catholicism and indeed the entire wealth of Judeo/Christian orthodox teachings over the centuries. . . in acceptance and in accordance with . . . Divine Revelation . . . there is absolutely no such state within God's creation of human kind such as . . . "neither male nor female" . . . such a teaching/understanding is a delusion and is a false teaching . . . which in Christendom is considered as "heresy"
As Heretical a belief as Heliocentricism, in fact.

Eppur Si Muove.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Prevalance of Transsexuality in Australia

A snippet from a story about a young trans woman, from The Australian:
Last year the Australian Passport Office issued 202 passports in which the stated gender was different to an earlier passport or to a birth certificate.

Some of those might be for Intersex conditions, but a reasonable approximation is 200 transsexual transitions per year. Most people - including all FtoMs who have GRS (Genital Reconstruction Surgery) have to go overseas. There would be perhaps 30 GRS procedures performed in Australia per year, the bulk of them by Dr Ceber in Melbourne.

Australia has a population of about 21 million. It has a birth rate of about 1.25%. Although population has grown significantly over the last 50 years, birth rate has declined from around 2% in 1960, so the number of births per year is pretty constant, about 200,000 per year.

The usually quoted figures for transsexuality are 1 in 30,000 for women, and 1 in 100,000 for men.

So we could expect the single trans man per year to get a new passport, and three or four women. Let's be generous, and say 5 in total.

Now, there's probably some backlog there - the previous government had a very trans-unfriendly policy, but even then, it was possible, as long as one had had SRS - Sex Reassignment Surgery, and one was unmarried. So the expected figure might be double that, to be generous, say 10.

The measured figure is 202. Strongly suggesting that the rate of transsexuality in Australia is not 1 in 30,000/100,000, but 1 in 1500/5000. This would be consistent with similar figures measured in Singapore, of 1 in 3000/10000.

There's not just a handful of us: there's thousands, of trans or intersexed people who have transitioned.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Hope

After writing the previous post about the American Catholic Bishops, I need to recharge my batteries yet again. It's not so much that I'm worn down from moving the Mountain one teaspoonful at a time - I have oodles in reserve - more in need of a pause to wipe the sweat from my brow. To get away from a world of Evil Spirits and Superstition, Bigotry and Ignorance, and to look forward with hope.

Transistor merges man and machine - Innovation- msnbc.com
Man and machine can now be linked more intimately than ever, according to a new article in the journal ACS Nano Letters. Scientists have embedded a nano-sized transistor inside a cell-like membrane and powered it using the cell's own fuel.

The research could lead to new types of human-machine interactions where embedded devices could relay information about the inner workings of disease-related proteins inside the cell membrane, and eventually lead to new ways to read, and even influence, brain or nerve cells.

Jim Von Ehr says Zyvex will Achieve Digital Matter from Building Blocks by 2015 and Rudimentary Molecular Manufacturing by 2020
Question 2: Zyvex Performance Materials has developed a new composite. What is special about this material?
Answer 2
: We have developed a composite material that is loaded with carbon nanotubes, using our proprietary technology to achieve superior strength/weight ratios compared to other composites. We recently created a boat with this composite, with much better fuel efficiency and range than boats made from fibreglass or other composites. This material clearly has potential for aerospace applications, leading to Lockheed Martin investing in us to develop this area.
...
Question 13: When is your best assessment of when molecular manufacturing will emerge?
Answer 13
: We are confident that we will be able to create simple, blocklike objects within the next five years. From that point, capabilities should grow fairly rapidly. Once simple block objects are created, we can programmably assemble them to make more complex objects. Zyvex has already identified a number of market opportunities for these. Once we get the basic capability of creating these simple objects, we can expand their complexity and sophistication rapidly. From the first integrated circuit to an extremely valuable integrated circuit business ecosystem took a surprisingly short amount of time, compared to previous technological revolutions. I’d expect a Digital Matter ecosystem to also develop rapidly once the basics are in place. Although I don't feel comfortable making specific predictions as to when molecular manufacturing will emerge, by 2020 we should have rudimentary molecular manufacturing systems in operation. Once we can create these blocks, the technology of molecular manufacturing will advance exponentially. Digital matter will eventually change everything.


Porting Digital Memory : A feasibility analysis of neural interfaces and controllers
As human neural networks and electronic digital networks converge there is some debate over how to best move data from neural to digital formats. Since the human brain is equipped with high-resolution sensory organs, there are many obvious routes for digital-to-neural input, but organic systems lack sufficient neural outputs for porting thoughts, memories, and dreams directly to digital memory. A variety of methods have been pioneered to capture digital thought, including embedded sensor wires, embedded sensor grids, and non-invasive dermal sensors. Initial success with neural interfaces indicates that progress in this field is possible, but each method has distinct functional limitations and problems. Given the severity of modification needed for high-resolution neural-to-digital memory capture, analysis suggests a mix of invasive and non-invasive methods will be customized to meet specific end-user needs, and that the popular market will lean more towards minimally invasive “good-enough” technologies as opposed to radically invasive technologies for the high-end consumer.

And a long shot - from the "It's Life, Jim, but not as we know it" Department.
What is Consuming Hydrogen and Acetylene on Titan?
Two new papers based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan's surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized "methane-based life."

One key finding comes from a paper online now in the journal Icarus that shows hydrogen molecules flowing down through Titan's atmosphere and disappearing at the surface. Another paper online now in the Journal of Geophysical Research maps hydrocarbons on the Titan surface and finds a lack of acetylene.
I feel sorry for those who use their intellect on such issues as "theological pneumatics" or "timing of ensoulment". There's so much exciting out there in Reality, instead.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Catholic Bishops No Longer Neutral

I'll quote the whole thing from the Jesuit America Magazine.
May 19, 2010

Dear Member of Congress:

We write to you regarding the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3017, and Senate (S. 1584). Our purpose is to outline the serious concerns we have with these bills in their current form and why we cannot maintain the position of neutrality we held in 2007.

For the sake of clarity, permit us first to state two basic tenets of Catholic Church teaching on this issue. First, persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and second “[u]nder no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”), nos. 2357-58.

Catholic teaching states that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected, by other persons and by law. We recognize that no one should be an object of scorn, hatred, or violence for any reason, including sexual inclination. The Church affords special concern and pastoral attention to those who experience a homosexual inclination and stands committed to avoid “[e]very sign of unjust discrimination in their regard.” CCC, no. 2358.

The Catholic Church makes an important distinction between actions and inclination. While the Church is ardently opposed to all unjust discrimination on the grounds of sexual inclination, whether homosexual or heterosexual, it does teach that all sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman are morally wrong. The Catholic Church’s teaching cannot, therefore, be equated with “unjust discrimination,” because it is based on fundamental truths about the human person and personal conduct. Homosexual conduct is categorically closed to the transmission of life, and does not reflect or respect the personal complementarity of man and woman. In contrast to sexual conduct within marriage between one man and one woman—which does serve both the good of each married person and the good of society— heterosexual and homosexual conduct outside of marriage has no claim to special protection bythe state.

Just as every other group in our society, the Catholic Church enjoys the same rights to hold to its beliefs, organize itself around them, and argue for them in the public square. This is guaranteed by our Constitution. This includes the right to teach what it holds to be the truth concerning homosexual conduct—and to act as an employer consistent with that truth—without the threat of government sanction.

The USCCB continues to oppose “unjust discrimination” against people with a homosexual inclination, but we cannot support a bill – such as ENDA in its current form – that would legally affirm and specially protect any sexual conduct outside of marriage.

Moreover, because the passage of such a bill could be used to punish as discrimination what the Catholic Church teaches, the USCCB has always sought as comprehensive a religious exemption as is achievable, in order to protect the religious freedom of the Church, and of all others who hold similar views. One partial solution to this problem is to apply Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination, which is already incorporated in the current version of the bill.

But this is insufficient alone, as the Title VII protection does not cover all religious employers, and recent experience teaches that even covered institutions may face government retaliation for relying on such exemptions. Without such additional protection, ENDA would be applied to jeopardize our religious freedom to live our faith and moral tenets in today’s society.

The movement to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex (a.k.a. same-sex “marriage”) has changed the law substantially toward that end, at both the state and federal level, and it has become increasingly clear that laws like ENDA have been instrumental to those changes.

For example, we have seen state Supreme Courts repeatedly rely on state-level ENDAs as a basis for creating a state constitutional right to same-sex “marriage.” We consider it very likely that ENDA, despite referencing DOMA, could be used for similar purposes at the federal level. The highest courts of California, Connecticut, and Iowa have declared that the traditional definition of marriage is “discriminatory” and lacking any “rational basis,” and so violates the constitutions of their respective states. Cases are now being brought in order to create a federal constitutional right to same-sex “marriage”—whether by striking down federal DOMA, or by striking down California’s Proposition 8 in federal court. If ENDA were to pass, we would expect lawyers to invoke it in federal court under the federal constitution, just as they invoked analogous state laws in state constitutional litigation. If this strategy were to succeed, it would represent a legal and moral disaster comparable in many ways to Roe v. Wade. As leaders of the Catholic Church, we have a moral obligation to oppose any law that would clearly contribute to this outcome.

These rulings also reflect a legal strategy that gay rights advocates have repeatedly andpublicly explained in scholarly articles and other media—first, secure the passage of sexual orientation antidiscrimination laws, such as ENDA, and then invoke the principle embedded within those laws as a basis for same-sex “marriage.”

In addition to ENDA’s protection of same-sex conduct, its threat to religious liberty, and its contribution to the cause of same-sex “marriage,” there are other obstacles to its passage. The bill’s treatment of “gender identity,” which was not in the 2007 bill, would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others. The bill also lacks an exemption for a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ), for those cases where it is neither unjust nor inappropriate to consider an applicant’s sexual inclination.

While we regret we cannot support ENDA for the above stated reasons, the Conference would, however, be interested in discussing legislation that would protect persons with a homosexual inclination from unjust discrimination, without protecting homosexual conduct. We therefore invite further discussion with you and your staff on how ENDA might be amended to correct the various flaws discussed in this letter.

Sincerely,

[Signed]

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage

Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Chairman, Committee on Doctrine

I better explain this groundbreaking example of casuistic mendacity. A document that is also an example of shooting one's-self in the foot, with a machine gun.

The Catholic Church is against same-sex marriage. Now whether it should be or not is immaterial, the fact is that it is, on religious grounds. Accept that.

The US Constitution states that everyone should be treated equally. This has been interpreted by the various courts - notably the US Supreme Court - to mean that if any group can show a systematic pattern of unjust discrimination in one area, they have a lower burden of proof in establishing discrimination in other areas.

The Catholic Bishops are thus correct in one respect: should a law be passed recognising that unjust discrimination occurs in employment towards members of one group, then the burden of proof would be considerably lowered when it comes to that same group demanding the right to marry.

Now let's look at the mendacity.
While we regret we cannot support ENDA for the above stated reasons, the Conference would, however, be interested in discussing legislation that would protect persons with a homosexual inclination from unjust discrimination, without protecting homosexual conduct.
ENDA says nothing about sexual conduct. It only protects on the grounds of "sexual orientation" - inclination in other words. The Exact Wording of the bill is
(9) SEXUAL ORIENTATION- The term ‘sexual orientation’ means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.
They don't make the argument that the wording protects heterosexual fornication, bigamy, divorce, or other heterosexual conduct they find immoral just because someone can't be fired for being straight any more. Because they'd be laughed at. They hope you won't notice the inconsistency amidst the mass of verbiage, the excuses and bafflegab.

Now let's move on to the complaints about an insufficient religious exemption. How, exactly, it's insufficient, they don't say. This is what the Bill says though:
This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 pursuant to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a); 2000e-2(e)(2)).
So Church, or any other Christian entity already already exempt from employing, say, Satanists, worshippers of Ba'al, or the Servants of Cthulhu, will have exactly the same exemptions when it comes to employing Gays. Or Straights for that matter.

Let's see - Devil-Worship Good, Gay Bad. Um.

But let's move along from the bafflegab, baloney, excuses and bulldust and examine the "shooting ones-self in the foot" aspect.

You see, this letter will be used for two purposes in court now. First, as evidence that unjust discrimination employment happens against Gays. The Catholic Bishops admit that, openly. So regardless of whether there's a specific law against it, on constitutional grounds, gays are a "suspect class" because they can prove they're victims of unjust discrimination.

Second, it will be used in the fight for same-sex marriage. GLBT groups can now show that by not granting same-sex marriage, it causes unjust persecution in other areas. Had same-sex marriage been legal, the Catholic Bishops would not have had an excuse to support employment discrimination too.

Worst of all though, there's one section that shows that the Catholic Bishops have lost their way. For the first time, they are openly and overtly supporting discrimination agaisnt a group, not for anything they've done, but just because of what they are. No, not Gays, there they at least employed two pages of closely-written weasel-words to pretend they weren't. No, it's this section here:
In addition to ENDA’s protection of same-sex conduct, its threat to religious liberty, and its contribution to the cause of same-sex “marriage,” there are other obstacles to its passage. The bill’s treatment of “gender identity,” which was not in the 2007 bill, would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others.
They admit it. It's not about the "Religious Liberty" to persecute. It's not about conduct they consider immoral. It's not even about same-sex marriage. There is no Religious basis here.

They are against legal rights for trans and intersexed people on the grounds of "privacy" and "freedom of association". That's all. Exactly the same grounds that were used to justify segregation, separate facilities for "Whites" and "Coloreds", or in Suid Afrika, "Blanks" and "Nie Blanks".
In 1955 he (Bishop Russel) issued a pastoral denouncing segregation as “morally wrong and sinful.”(1)
In 2010... it appears the Catholic Bishops would instead argue that desegregation "would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others."

They have, however, avoided one fate.
Ouellet had a sign hanging above his desk that read: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” (1)
They're no longer neutral. One must ask why?

The only difference between the bill of 2009, which they object to, and the bill of 2007, which they were neutral about, is the inclusion of Intersexed and Transsexual people. Or, as His Holiness has described them, threats to the Human Ecology. Vermin, to put it bluntly.
(The Church) must also protect man from self-destruction. What is needed is something like a human ecology, correctly understood.

If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics. What is involved here is faith in the Creator and a readiness to listen to the “language” of creation. To disregard this would be the self-destruction of man himself, and hence the destruction of God’s own work.

-- ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ROMAN CURIA FOR THE TRADITIONAL EXCHANGE OF CHRISTMAS GREETINGS 2008

To carry our reflection further, we must remember that the problem of the environment is complex; one might compare it to a multifaceted prism. Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America.
-- ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI TO THE MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS FOR THE TRADITIONAL EXCHANGE OF NEW YEAR GREETINGS 2010

(1) Quotes from The Hottest Places in Hell: The Catholic Church and Civil Rights in Selma, Alabama, 1937-1965 PhD Thesis by G.N.Hite

Sunday, 6 June 2010

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine version - Official



OK, it's a composite of several takes... but still, Art at its finest.

Serious posts of great worth and moment will resume shortly. I just needed to smell the roses for a while. Life's too short - and too important - for it to be taken too seriously.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Aliens vs Human Intelligence DNA Evolution Science Alien Contact



After so many posts about superstition, greed, violence, thuggery, and abject stupidity... I need one like this as a refresher. I don't agree with all that's being said, but just to hear cogent argument rather than blithering idiocy is refreshing.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Speaking Out in Queensland

From the ABC:
Majority of harassed gays suffer in silence
Especially if they're not Gay, but Trans.
A new study has found persecution of those who do not fit the heterosexual norm is rife in Queensland.

A survey of 1,100 homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people found the overwhelming majority had been harassed or abused and most are suffering in silence.
...
The gay-hate study found abusers are usually young men who do not know their victim and 75 per cent of victims do not report the incidents to authorities.

Dr Berman says people suffer in silence for a host of reasons.

"Sixteen per cent do not believe their report would be dealt with fairly, 9 per cent feared further violence or discrimination and 8 per cent feared being outed," he said.

Even though the latest study examines Queensland, Dr Berman says gay hate crimes are common Australia-wide.

He says smaller studies in Victoria and New South Wales delivered similar results and it is time the matter is taken seriously.
...

Key survey results:

Received verbal abuse:

  • 76 per cent of males
  • 69 per cent of females
  • 92 per cent transgender male to female
  • 55 per cent transgender female to male


Physical assault without a weapon:

  • 32 per cent of male
  • 15 per cent of females
  • 46 per cent transgender male to female
  • 45 per cent transgender female to male


Physical attack with a weapon, knife, bottle or stone:

  • 12 per cent of males
  • 6 per cent of females
  • 38 per cent transgender male to female
  • 9 per cent transgender female to male
  • 12 per cent other


Source - AAP/Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland.


Think about that. Can anyone imagine any other minority group in a civilised, western country where 38% - over one in three - have been physically assaulted - usually be strangers - "with a weapon, knife, bottle or stone"? And nearly half having been assaulted using punches and kicks? Can anyone imagine this not being front-page news if it was revealed?

It's reasonable to say that the sample size is small: but then, so is the Universal Set, the set of all MtoF people in Queensland.

The saddest thing? Australia is one of the more trans-friendly countries in the world. Most other places are worse.

As for me... I've not been a victim of an attack, verbal or otherwise. Well, not in the FtoM category, anyway. The trigger for me deciding to abandon any further attempts to retain a male social role was in July, 2005. When I was accosted by some drunks on my way to work from where I'd parked the car. They called me a "Butch Dyke" and a "Drag King", and threatened to "Convert" me.

So I'd be in the 69% of "gay" females enduring verbal abuse instead.

While I might not identify as "transgendered", and certainly not "gay" or even "lesbian"... I don't have the privilege of deciding that. Not even in books describing how those like me are attacked.

It helps to have a sense of humour about such things. And to be prepared to use a carkey to put an attacker's eyes out. To be afraid enough to be safe, but not so terrified as to stop living a reasonably normal life.

Looking back on it... I should have reported it to the Police, shouldn't I? It never occurred to me to do so. What would I say? "Hi, I appear to be in the middle of a natural change from male to female that no-one understands and..."

I'd do that today. But I was so disorientated, going through Hormone Hell, not knowing what was happening or if this was survivable, my whole life turning upside-down, that I wasn't thinking clearly. It didn't seem that way, but obviously I was trying to retain some shred of sanity in a Universe gone crazy, and I just didn't have time for trivia like that.

Trans and Intersexed people are too accepting too. Usually since childhood, we have to face the fact that that's the way things are. We have no standard for comparison, we don't realise (except as more than an intellectual abstraction) that this is not normal. All of us being attacked or threatened verbally? Well yes, of course, you can't be thin-skinned about that or you'd kill yourself (but half of us do, don't we?). Nearly half of us attacked, often with weaponry? Well, you just have to be careful, don't you. Besides which, how many women get raped? (But comparatively few by random strangers using weapons)

It's sometimes difficult to realise that not everyone is in this situation. That to many, there's a credibility gap, they don't believe that in a normal, civilised society, anyone could be treated this way.

Believe it.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

This is Evil

From the OSS SIMPLE SABOTAGE FIELD MANUAL (circa 1943)
5.b.1.b.2
Forget to provide paper in toilets;...
You Bastards!

Other evil bastardry:
5.b.6 Transportation: Railways
(a) Passengers
(1.) Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Make mistakes in issuing train tickets, leaving portions of the journey uncovered by the ticket book; issue two tickets for the same seat in the train, so that an interesting argument will result; near train time, instead of issuing printed tickets write them out slowly by hand, prolonging the process until the train is nearly ready to leave or has left the station. On station bulletin boards announcing train arrivals and departures, see that false and misleading information is given about trains bound for enemy destinations.
(2) In trains bound for enemy destinations, attendants should make life as uncomfortable as possible for passengers. See that the food is especially bad, take up tickets after midnight, call all station stops very loudly during the night, handle baggage as noisily as possible during the night, and so on.
(3)See that the luggage of enemy personnel is mislaid or unloaded at the wrong stations. Switch address labels on enemy baggage.
(4)Engineers should see that trains run slow or make unscheduled stops for plausible reasons.
OK, who are we at war with?
5.b.11 General Interference with Organisations and Production
(a)Organizations and Conferences
(1) Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
(2) Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.
(3)When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
(4)Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5)Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
(6)Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7)Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
(8)Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
(b)Managers and Supervisors
(1) Demand written orders.
(2) "Misunderstand" orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can....
I say again, who are we at war with?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Goodbye, Jeanne

Following on from a previous post.
Jeanne Robinson left this life at about 4:45 Sunday afternoon, a gentle smile on her face. Her departure was quite peaceful and she was in no pain at all.
After seeing her dance, her Zen teacher, Tenshin Reb Anderson, named her Buchi Eihei-dancing wisdom, eternal peace.

More at StarDance and Spider Robinson's site.

Joy shared is doubled; Pain shared is halved.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Peace Activists

They're the ones with the iron bars and knives. Facing... paintball guns.



I think that any other armed force would have started shooting a long time before, and not stopped as soon.
While intercepting the Mavi Marmara ship, 7 soldiers were injured and 9 flotilla participants were killed. Upon boarding the ship the soldiers were attacked by the masses with knives, clubs, and live fire, and were forced to return fire. The other ships cooperated with security forces.
...
Two soldiers were injured from the gunfire and an additional soldier suffered wounds after being stabbed by a knife. In total, seven Naval soldiers were injured. Four of these soldiers are currently categorized as in moderate condition, one is lightly injured, and two have been released from the hospital. Nine of the flotilla participants who were on board the Mavi Marmara ship were killed.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, the naval soldiers who were equipped with paintball guns in order to avoid using live fire, were forced to change their original plans, using first their riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.
Such ridiculous claims would never be believed... unless they had the video. They do. Freeze Frame at 52 seconds.



It's a great way of marking indelibly those committing violence, for later prosecution. It's also scary, because they look a bit like real weapons. It also means that should casualties have their weapons stolen, little harm will be done - which is why the IDF marines who were shot only had pistol wounds, not wounds from high-calibre weapons.



UPDATE

And here's what they were facing. Axes. Firebombs. Gasmasks. Grenades. Knives. This was a propaganda battle, and both sides were well prepared for that.



UPDATE II

More that doesn't fit the MSM lede



The official IDF line though is consistent with the video feed:
One of the Naval Special Forces soldiers, who participated in the interception of the Mavi Marama ship and sustained a broken arm while under attack by the ship’s passengers, described the events. “Each soldier who descended was taken by three or four men and they simply exploded, beating him up. They lynched us. They had metal clubs, knives, slingshots, glass bottles…At one point there was also live fire.

“I was among the last to descend, and I saw that the group was dispersed, everyone in his own corner surrounded by 3 or 4 men, I saw a soldier on the floor with two men beating him. I peeled them off of him and they came at me and began beating me with the clubs. That’s how I broke my arm. At that moment I had no weapon in my hands, like everyone else who descended on the cables empty-handed. My paintball gun was behind me.

“They came and attacked me, I brought them down to the floor, I took a few steps back, I took out my paintball gun, they came at me, and I shot at their legs. One of the clubs destroyed my paint gun and I moved on to my pistol which was the only thing to hold against them. At this point my arm no longer functioned.”

“From the opening of the corridor, they were shooting at us the entire time with live fire”

The naval soldier described how the soldiers were shot at from the entrance to the ship’s corridor: “I saw two from my group lying flat on the ground. From the opening of the corridor they were shooting at them the entire time with live fire, bullets. We identified a gun barrel, and one of us shot at the guy holding it. Afterwards we entered and he wasn’t there. About 30 men, they simply came for war. We came to straighten things out, to speak to those who went downstairs, but each of us who descended was simply attacked.”

“There were some from my group that were thrown to the lower floor, and the passengers took their equipment. They jumped to the water as a last resort. We were told that if they didn’t listen, we should shoot at their legs with the paintball gun. 'The pistol is only for if you really feel your life is in danger, which shouldn’t happen. It would be extremely abnormal.' But in the end, that is what happened.”

“We came with the intention of stopping the ship and taking it to Ashdod, and we did not come with the weapons we usually have, we came for something entirely different.”